Huge problem for United Airlines this morning as this story is quickly going viral.
After overbooking a flight from Chicago to Louisville last night, the airline began offering bribes to make room for four standby crew members to take the flight.
In any case, after offering $400 to get off the flight, United upped the ante to $800. But no one was biting.
United then apparently chose four passengers at random and told them they would have to leave the place. A couple was told first, and they deplaned.
But a man who identified himself as a doctor said he wouldn't leave as he had patients to see the next morning. The United crew then called law enforcement. As the man informed the officers he was calling his lawyer, the officers forcibly removed the man. And I mean, FORCIBLY.
"Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked," a United Airlines spokesperson told the Courier-Journal. "After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate."
"We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities," the spokesperson said.
To be honest, United could have paid the guy $1 million and been better off than they are today considering the hideous press they are getting.
For those interested, Yahoo Finance breaks down how this may very well be perfectly legal:
In plain language under Rule 25—on page 35 if you print it out—the agreement says exactly what happens if the flight is oversold. “If there are not enough volunteers, other Passengers may be denied boarding involuntarily,” the language reads. (Of course, the deplaned man was not denied boarding, he was already boarded.)
The language continues however, shining light on how these “other Passengers” are chosen. It’s not random, it’s “in accordance with UA’s boarding priority.” That means that if you have a higher fare class, have a complex itinerary, have status (e.g. gold or platinum), have checked in early, or are a frequent flier, you are less likely to be asked to take the next flight. Even if it’s just a frequent flier card that you never use, it might save you from being forcibly dragged off a plane.
Audra D. Bridges posted a video to Facebook with this message:
"We are on this flight," Bridges wrote. "United airlines overbooked the flight. They randomly selected people to kick off so their standby crew could have a seat. This man is a doctor and has to be at the hospital in the morning. He did not want to get off. We are all shaky and so disgusted."
@United overbook #flight3411 and decided to force random passengers off the plane. Here's how they did it: pic.twitter.com/QfefM8X2cW— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017
At one point, the man found his way back onboard, racing to the back of the plane:
@united @CNN @FoxNews @WHAS11 Man forcibly removed from plane somehow gets back on still bloody from being removed pic.twitter.com/njS3nC0pDl— Tyler Bridges (@Tyler_Bridges) April 10, 2017