Clarifying Some Important Facts On The Horrible United Airlines Situation

Boy, did my Twitter feed go bonkers last night.  I wrote yesterday about a horrific situation with a United Airlines passenger getting dragged off a plane.  There seems to be some genuine misunderstanding about the facts of the situation and the rights of the passenger in this case that I wanted to clarify.

It started with a Twitter conversation I was having with my good friend Doug Ulman.  He runs a great organization that raises money for cancer research.  If you only take one thing away from today, go visit them and make a donation.  At any rate, I woke up this morning to a Twitter explosion.  There were some folks not clear on the facts, not a surprise given this was a unique situation to some degree.  But, the point at which I was likened to a Nazi, I figured it might be time for a bit of clarification.

Horrible United Airlines Situation

The Facts

I’m not some United apologist.  If you look at my Tweets and other public comments, I’m frequently critical of their actions.  They can absolutely run a better airline.  They frequently don’t.

I’m taking as fact that United did not oversell the flight in question.  Overselling is a tactic the airlines employ to make more money.  They expect a certain number of passengers to no-show.  If the numbers don’t work out, there are more passengers than seats.  Passengers are offered money to voluntarily take a later flight.  If not enough people volunteer, then the airline has to select someone to leave the flight.  Those passengers have legal rights to compensation.

In this case, the airline doesn’t appear to have purposely oversold the flight.  At the last-minute, when boarding was fairly complete, 4 United crew members showed up for the flight needing to get onboard so they could operate the return flight to Chicago the following morning.  If United didn’t board them, then every passenger on the return flight the following morning doesn’t get where they’re going.

Faced with that situation, United went through their procedures for seeking volunteers.  When they couldn’t get enough volunteers, all hell broke loose.

What You’re Entitled To

The DOT is pretty clear on your rights in this situation.  Quoting in part from their website:

DOT requires each airline to give all passengers who are bumped involuntarily a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides who gets on an oversold flight and who doesn’t. Those travelers who don’t get to fly are frequently entitled to denied boarding compensation in the form of a check or cash. The amount depends on the price of their ticket and the length of the delay:

  • If you are bumped involuntarily and the airline arranges substitute transportation that is scheduled to get you to your final destination (including later connections) within one hour of your original scheduled arrival time, there is no compensation.
  • If the airline arranges substitute transportation that is scheduled to arrive at your destination between one and two hours after your original arrival time (between one and four hours on international flights), the airline must pay you an amount equal to 200% of your one-way fare to your final destination that day, with a $675 maximum.
  • If the substitute transportation is scheduled to get you to your destination more than two hours later (four hours internationally), or if the airline does not make any substitute travel arrangements for you, the compensation doubles (400% of your one-way fare, $1350 maximum).

There’s a lot more, but that’s legally what you’re entitled to.  There are a few folks who look like they may have some legal background claiming that you have a right to your seat once you’ve boarded the plane.  To my knowledge, there are no laws that give you an absolute right to fly in this situation.  DOT regulations are clear on compensation.  But, the airlines’ contract of carriage gives them the right to revoke your boarding pass, even if you already boarded.

Bottom line?  It doesn’t matter if you already boarded.  The airline can still ask you to leave.  And, you have a legal obligation to comply.  As I wrote in my earlier post, you have a legal right to comply even when you’re right and they’re wrong.  I was in a situation like this last year where I almost didn’t end up getting home because of a power trip by a flight attendant.

Am I A Nazi?

Great question.  I don’t think so.

Seriously, let’s go through the various people involved and how this horrifi situation could have been avoided.

United Airlines’ Employees

The agents dealing with the passenger absolutely had the right to call law enforcement to remove him.  He refused to go.  That being said, they absolutely could have done more to avoid the situation.  I suspect they’re not allowed to offer more than $800 in compensation for a volunteer.  If that is the case, then United needs to install safeguards with airport supervisors to help deal with situations like this.  If the airline doesn’t want to give every gate agent the authority to extend compensation over a certain amount, then have a supervisor in each station that can approve in extenuating circumstances.  A passenger who has already boarded their flight is absolutely an extenuating circumstance.  United probably saves themselves a lot of grief if they had such a procedure in place.  Wandering Aramean says it best.  Carrot, stick.

They were trying to solve a weird issue.  If they don’t remove 4 people from the flight, then everyone on the return flight doesn’t get where they’re going.  I think we can throw shade at United for getting themselves into this situation.  Hard to say without all the facts.  But, the United crew needed to fly, and a difficult decision needed to be made at some point.

The Passenger

This is the part where I was called a Nazi.  I agree what happened to the passenger was abhorrent, horrible, senseless.  But, rewind to before he got dragged off the plane.  Hear me out.

He no longer had a valid ticket.  The airline had the legal right to deny him passage that day.  They did so.  Regardless of the fact that United should have done more, they had the legal right to ask him to leave.

At that point, the passenger has no legal right to remain on the plane.  It appears he was asked to leave multiple times.  He refused.  Law enforcement was called and he was asked to leave again.  When those efforts failed, chaos ensued.

But, before the chaos, this passenger had the opportunity to leave the plane under his own power.  He didn’t deserve anything that happened to him by the police.  Don’t confuse that with the fact that he was legally obligated to leave the plane.

Law Enforcement

In the end, it’s because of the actions of the officers in this situation that we’re even discussing this incident.  If the passenger is coerced off the plane by law enforcement without force, this is a non-issue.  I’m not a police officer, nor did I ever wear that uniform.  I’m sure there’s an argument to be made in every situation that force is required at some point.  The situation didn’t seem like it had reached that point here.

United called the cops to remove the passenger.  In most cases, when a police officer tells you to move, you move.  That didn’t happen here.  When it didn’t happen, I really think law enforcement and United employees should have considered some other options here.  That’s easy to say in retrospect.  But, the belligerence of the passenger was a direct result of an odd situation.

And, in any case, nobody deserves to be treated like that, especially when they’re acting in a non-violent manner.  Sure, I get the passenger was being obstinate.  But, there are no reports he was acting in a violent manner.

The Final Two Pennies

There are absolutely lessons to be learned here.  United needs better policies to handle edge situations like this.  I think Oscar Munoz is a very competent CEO who will recognize that, while they were within their rights to remove the passenger, they could have done more to diffuse the situation.

There’s an important lesson to be learned by passengers here, and not one I think is 100% fair.  When you’re on a plane and a crew member tells you to get off, your refusal puts you at odds with the law.  We can argue that bad apples can take this too far in certain situations, but it doesn’t change the underlying premise.  You’re legally required to follow crew instructions when you’re on a plane, including when they tell you to get off that plane.

Law enforcement?  I can’t tell you I have a magic bullet solution,  but the methods used weren’t the right ones.  Not if you have any compassion for your fellow human beings.

The post Clarifying Some Important Facts On The Horrible United Airlines Situation Was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. They had a legal to remove him if he became a threat or something else he did. He did not. Read United’s terms of carriage. It has some very specific rules for removal from an aircraft. The passenger did not break any of the rules specified in the terms of carriage.

    Once the passenger was seated, a new set of rules apply and United broke its own terms of carriage.

      1. Read

        UA shall have the right to refuse to transport or shall have the right to remove from the aircraft at any point, any Passenger for the following reasons: …”

        None of those terms apply in this situation. Getting a crew to a destination in not a valid reason to remove a passenger.

          1. Ed, do you really think the boarding pass was voided at the time of removal? i.e. was it verbally voided or if we look at the time stamp in the reservation system was it voided prior to law enforcement coming to remove him? That’s an interesting thing to think of, did he actually hold a voided ticket or was he just not following the instructions of crew…

          2. Iolaire, can’t say for sure. But, I think so. For United to have identified who the unlucky IDBers were, they likely went through some computer process. Reasonably likely that process boots the pax. Could be some intermediate step where they’re identified but not booted. That’s the part that’s difficult to say.

          3. Ed,

            As the name implies, a boarding pass is fundamentally a document which allows one to pass for the purpose of boarding. Once a person is on the plane and in their assigned seat, it has fulfilled its primary role. At that point, I don’t see how it can be retroactively voided.

            Presumably this man’s boarding pass was checked at the gate. To me, the act of scanning his boarding pass and then allowing him to board indicates acceptance by the airline of the individual as a passenger with a valid reservation for that flight. At that point, I think most people would agree he has fulfilled his part of the contract and has a reasonable expectation of carriage.

            Regardless of what the airline subsequently does to his reservation, they can no longer deny him boarding because boarding has already happened. At this point, it becomes a refusal to carry. If the refusal is not for a valid reason, the airline has broken the contract and should be subject to penalty.

          4. Arcanum, a well-thought argument. I still don’t think you’re right, but I get your position here. I think there’s significance to the fact that the flight hasn’t departed and the airline doesn’t consider boarding complete. They’ve allowed you on the plane, but I’m suspecting they’ll argue they retain the right to revoke that consent until the door is closed. A court might prove them wrong. But, that’s what makes the most sense to me.

            One example to refute your theory is when an airline issues the same seat to two passengers. In that situation, where both have boarded, one is removed (I’ve seen it happen). There aren’t enough seats. Someone has to be removed, and I don’t believe that is categorized as a refusal to transport.

          5. Once they called LE, seems to me he was a refusal to carry. The captain has the authority to remove a boarded passenger who is disruptive and/or belligerent. There are missing pieces to the puzzle, including the possibility he had already agreed to be re-accommodated, been rebooked and gotten a hotel room, then somehow got back on the plane and refused to leave. This is not documented but has been described by an unnamed source who says they work for Republic and a timeline published indicates he had several comings and goings.

            But at very least he was likely already a refusal to carry before he called his lawyer in front of the LEOs and said he was suing United Then he told the LEOs they could drag him off and take him to jail, even while they were warning him very calmly what they would need to do.

            If the guy was willing to be taken to jail rather than comply, how did he expect them to get him there?

            The plane was already hours late. He wasn’t budging. He was indeed disruptive and belligerent, the captain was not flying him..
            ..What were the options? Negotiations were already over. He was off the plane one way or another.

            His choice, his decision. He set them up once he forced them to physically remove him, by resisting and causing himself to be injured.

          6. Southeastpaws, I’ve heard some of the same bits of info about the timeline. I’m not sure we’re ever getting more story unless this thing ultimately ends up in a public courtroom. That’s unfortunate.

  2. If getting the four crew members to the destination is as critical to the operation of the next day’s flight as you indicate:

    “At the last-minute, when boarding was fairly complete, 4 United crew members showed up for the flight needing to get onboard so they could operate the return flight to Chicago the following morning. If United didn’t board them, then every passenger on the return flight the following morning doesn’t get where they’re going.”

    Then United has no excuse for not saving those four seats to begin with. Those would be reserved/blocked seats and no pax would be placed there for any reason. The last minute arrival of the crew would be irrelevant.

    I’m no fan of United but I’m fairly confident that the schedulers realized they needed a crew to get the plane back to Chicago well before the “last minute” and well before boarding began.

  3. With all do respect, all your huge statement shows that; even we are the ones paying for a ticket (our money) and already boarded, they have the right to treat us as sh@t? You mentioned “At the last-minute, when boarding was fairly complete, 4 United crew members showed up for the flight needing to get onboard so they could operate the return flight to Chicago the following morning. If United didn’t board them, then every passenger on the return flight the following morning doesn’t get where they’re going”, and you know what? NO WAY. How in the h@ll a very experienced airline did not plan a crew for a returning flight? It means a very poor excuse. I do not believe United sold a returning flight without a proper crew already planned. Sorry man, just my comment.

  4. At the risk of getting attacked (or being called a fellow nazi, etc)….I’ve been in this situation many times, as I’m sure most frequent flyers have been. It sucks, but it seems the most outraged folks maybe fly once or twice a year and don’t get the realities – especially as you indicated,on the return route crew, etc. I also find it amazing that all the other passengers had no issue pulling out their phones to record all of this activity, yet (and making an assumption here) when the gate agents announced a need for volunteers, not one came forward. So the agents had to choose someone themselves. Seeing the activity unfold, those same passengers did not stand up and say ‘this is awful, I’ll just get off and take their deal’. Personally, I believe the ‘fellow passengers’ have some culpability here. Again…..expecting that I get some blowback for this sentiment.

    1. Not being able to get onto an airplane is very different from this situation. I don’t understand why you do not see the difference. In this situation, the passenger was already in his assigned seat. It is not a question of denied boarding but refusal to transport where they removed a passenger from the airplane.

      Removal of a passenger is covered in United’s Contract of Carriage under Rule 21. It specifies very specific terms for removal and getting a crew to a location is not one of them.

      1. Felix, having an assigned seat is not an absolute right. The airline can invalidate that seat assignment. I’m not saying you’re wrong on 21, I just don’t believe he was a pax at that point. Seat assignment does not equal right to fly.

        1. In a court of law It will not matter what United Airlines corporate policy states on their contract. State of Illinois law will prevail and United will be at fault in this case. United Airlines cannot assault and batter their customers. Just wait and see.

          1. Perry, United wasn’t the assaulting party. Best/only way to connect UA to the assault is to argue they didn’t have the right to remove him from the plane, and the actions of the police are a direct result of their error.

      2. For those arguing this was refusal of transport/removal of passenger, the fine line to debate is the definition of a passenger:
        Passenger means any person, except members of the crew, carried or holding a confirmed reservation to be carried in an aircraft with the consent of the carrier.

        So, did he have a confirmed reservation with consent of the carrier at the time he was removed? If he did, it’s refusal to transport. If he didn’t, he wasn’t a passenger.

      3. Felix, this whole situation is muddied by the injection of certain pieces of information and many other important parts are left out. First, I have to correct your hypothesis about “Boarding”. Going past the counter, down the jetway, getting on the plane or even in a seat with a seat belt does not meet the definition of “Boarding”. The boarding process is complete only when the doors to the aircraft have been closed. This is the definition of “boarding” for employees, it is part of our written manuals and in our training materials.

        This whole situation was truly terrible and upsetting for everyone involved, as well as for everyone who saw the video and went to on to form opinions based on a lack of understanding how airlines work and the layers upon layers of down line service depends on each flight. And really, that is what the airlines are selling. Travel from point A to point B. The public doesn’t want to know every step and procedure involved. They want the lowest fare, and to get where they are going. The details and the scope of the whole operation is not something they care about, nor should they. And the regulations are put in place to try and remove the burden of individuals having to know and observe every single aspect of the business and where their flight fits into it. When things go wrong, so many people chime in with well meaning but naive and simple solutions to problems that are much more complicated than they appear. The limo or taxi for the crew sounds logical, and in fact there are times that I have experienced that in my years of flying. But whether working on an airplane, deadheading or sitting snowed in at an airport, the crew is considered “On Duty”, and there are specific daily limits to a duty day as well as a required uninterrupted rest between those duty periods. Flight Attendants have specific safety and security responsibilities that a lack of sleep can marginalize, and no one wants to worry about whether the pilots are well rested or not.

        We have no idea of the circumstances that required this crew to suddenly have to go and be ready to work the flight the next day. The possibilities are endless. One possibility I will absolutely guarantee did NOT happen was somehow that crew was forgotten and left out of the planning. These flights schedules are made months in advance. The task of breaking down the entire day to day operation into crews, meeting every duty legality, scheduling hotel transportation to the hotel and back again the next day, scheduling rooms etc are really mind boggling. There are teams of people that each work to make everything work, and they also are there to jump into action and try and solve problems when unexpected things arise. there is no absolute rule and policy for every single situation that happens. Only guide lines to make the best possible decision based on accepted practices across the spectrum. I do not work for United, and I know they have gotten a reputation for being rude or uncaring. Just know, that the bigger an operation gets, it cannot help but change, and sometimes change is difficult and not attractive. But I would like to say this. It was a series of events that led to an awful conclusion. I am sure no one at United or at the Chicago Police Department woke up that morning and hoped or planned for this to be part of their day. Every airline has the same policy regarding “must ride” passengers, and sometimes people jump at the chance to reschedule and receive compensation, and at other times it has to go into an involuntary selection. No one is happy about it, sometimes anger and frustration flares, but this kind of behavior isn’t something that happens often at all. So please know, it could have been any airline, or any cities Police department to have this happen.

        And I have heard reports that this Man and his Wife did accept the offer to leave with compensation, along with another couple. Reports have them exiting the aircraft and at some point the man ran past people and re entered the plane, which right away will guarantee your being removed and questioned by Police. I don’t want to be jaded or negative of the gentleman, but something looks purposeful and calculating. One thing that really stands out to me is in all the footage of the Man carrying on with police and his wife is no where to be seen. This makes me suspect that he did in fact leave then re-enter the plane.

        And I get why so many people are outraged with what they have seen. But the parts of the picture that they don’t know are much more important than what was seen. This was too long for a time when people can only digest thoughts that fit in “Tweets”, but sometimes the whole story is bigger than a “Tweet”.

        I am not saying the conclusion was acceptable. But that ALL parties had some responsibility for the results, INCLUDING the passenger.

    2. Matt, perhaps you’re looking at this the wrong way. If people who fly only once or twice a year find overselling/denied boarding outrageous, maybe it’s because these practices are genuinely wrong when seen from the perspective of the average reasonable person.

      The fact that frequent flyers are used to these situations doesn’t make them acceptable or right. Perhaps it means we have become so accustomed to abuse or mistreatment from the airlines that we just see this as “par for the course”. Sometimes you need an outsider to come in and say “WTF do you people think you’re doing?” before you realize just how messed a situation has become.

      Nick from OMAAT had a great post the other day, one of the few truly insightful things I’ve read on the airline blogs over the years. He says:

      “It’s no longer about involuntary denial of boarding (or being kicked off a plane to accommodate United crew). It’s about a massive overreach of corporate authority, a horrifying use of violence when utterly unnecessary, and generally thuggish behavior that’s tolerated because, through years of (rightly) valuing our collective security above all else, we have given airlines authority backed up with the tools of law enforcement to handle business matters with the subtlety of a bludgeon. When an airline’s revenue management task force can enforce their bottom line with physical violence and a non-threatening older man is bloodied as a result, people pay attention.”

  5. I completely understand how someone could not know all the airplane law that we know. This type of situation doesn’t make sense and its unreasonable to assume that a lay person would know that they have zero rights when they enter an airplane (or maybe the airport).

  6. My wife asked me what the thoughts of my travel friends were. I told her 50/50. She went on to tell me that she never would have left the airplane unless it was for lots of money.

  7. While te above am be true, I think you are missing the current issue. At this point in time, the pertinent narrative is not who is legally and technically correct, it is the tone deaf response by United. The story is exploding out of control and their PR campaign is abysmal. United is losing the court of public opinion and tha is much more important than whether they were in the right about what transpired.

    1. Bob, I’m absolutely not missing the issue. United’s PR efforts here are poor, at best. You can be right and still lose in the court of public opinion. United is making an art out of it.

  8. “But, the airlines’ contract of carriage gives them the right to revoke your boarding pass, even if you already boarded.” YOU MADE A BIG ASSUMPTION!!!! i would suggest you to quote (be absolutely sure) the contract of carriage that specifically states after boarding rights/ laws before you write that line!

  9. Are there any other carriers flying to the destination city? How come United suddenly needed these employees to be on THIS plane? Could they have placed them on another airline? And why didn’t the United gate staff, once they’d realized their dangerous PR situation having seated a full flight, use every persuasion possible, such as TWO vouchers for volunteers? Good god, this didn’t have to happen. UA is getting millions in bad publicity, and it’s really NOT necessary unless you subscribe to the theory that employees are automatons unable to deal with situations outside standard, and this crew was absolutely essential ON THIS PLANE, and besides, it is all United’s plane and they can do anything they want without consequences. I don’t buy this; there are consequences, and they’ll be real. How much advertising did the “Friendly Skies” just waste?

    1. SST, there were likely lots of ways to avoid this outcome. They probably didn’t consider too many because passengers rarely refuse to leave a plane when asked. Maybe this outcome, as scary as it is, forces the airlines to come up with better policies to handle these situations.

  10. I only fly about once a year. Our family just returned from a flight to Europe (Lufthansa) so flying is fresh on my mind. Honestly there is no way I would have wanted to leave that flight after boarding. It would have been an incredible hassle for my family.
    Because I don’t fly much I guess it makes sense that I’ve never experienced an airlines asking for volunteers to leave the plane after boarding…I’ve only seen this at the gate. But this story terrifies me and I’ll be grabbing my carry-on and getting off the plane immediately if they approach me and tell me to leave. I guess United made an example of this passenger. It worked.

    1. CC, it’s a very rare situation. What is less rare is an airline employee saying you need to leave the plane for being disruptive. It’s scary, and your rights are limited in those situations. Sad to say, but the best choice at that exact moment is to follow instructions.

    2. Here is Lufthansa’s policy which applies apparently is applicable before boarding:

      Denied boarding

      If in case of overbooking you are denied boarding involuntarily on a flight for which you hold a reservation, you are entitled to care and compensation without delay and to a refund as laid out in the previous section on ’delay’. In addition you are entitled to re-routing, under comparable conditions, to your final destination at the earliest opportunity.
      Subject to availability of seats, you may instead choose re-routing to your final destination at a later date of your convenience, in which case you will have to bear yourself the cost of food, accommodation and transfer.

      If you are involuntarily or voluntarily denied boarding, you have the right to an alternative flight or to a refund and compensation which can also be paid as a cheque, by bank transfer or, with your agreement, in the form of a voucher. The compensation shall be paid in cash, cheque or transfer or with your agreement in form of vouchers. The amount of the compensation depends on the distance of the schedule flight or the alternative flight proposed to you. Compensations amount to:
      250 € for flights up to 1.500 km
      400 € for flights between 1.500 km and 3.500 and intra-Community flights of more than 1.500 km,
      600 € for flights of more then 3.500

  11. For the love of God please grow a backbone. There is absolutely no need to even acknowledge being likened to a Nazi, especially by someone with the Twitter handle SenatorUnicornFarts

  12. DOT requires each airline to give all passengers who are bumped involuntarily a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides who gets on an oversold flight and who doesn’t. Those travelers who don’t get to fly are frequently entitled to denied boarding compensation in the form of a check or cash

    I sorry ,but you did said that they weren’t oversold so no, this don’t apply

    And he was already in board so he can’t be denied boarding that make no sense

    They should make all crew member make Public excuse and ask what they could do to make he leave they didn’t need force here

    Why no flying in another fly ? Other companies ?

    The reaction of other passages is what make me the more revolting , they don’t give a dam oo is so freaking

    1. Very good point, was he given written instructions with his rights? That might better help communicate to the lay person why they have no rights….

      1. I doubt he was given the written disclosure before the police showed up. My guess is they give that when the passenger takes the walk of shame back up to the counter at the gate.

  13. Armchair quarterbacking here, but can or does United put crew on other airlines flights? I know no one wants to pay to interline any more, but there was a non-stop AA flight scheduled one hour later, in addition to a later UA flight for passengers. I suppose the later UA flight was too late to allow for mandated crew rest, but what about the option to put the crew on an AA flight?

  14. Not legal scenario here, but trying to make a parallel.

    Imagine you rent a hotel room for the night in New York. The hotel is privately owned but the land it is on is being leased from the city.

    You made your reservation 4 months ago and you check in. You are assigned room 216 and you go there, unpack your things, and get ready for bed. As you are falling asleep, you receive a loud knock on the door saying that you must vacate the room immediately. The hotel owner’s family has arrived in town and they need a place to sleep. They’ll pay you someone money and you can come back and sleep tomorrow night. You tell them to go away, that you paid for the room, and you are already in bed.

    A few minutes later the police break down the door and drag you from your bed.

    Now, perhaps the hotel was within it’s rights and within their contract with you to kick you out. Horrible customer service, but perhaps within their rights.

    I would say that the police should not have become involved so quickly with a civil (contractual) matter. Even in clear cases of (non-violent) trespassing (and I would say this is far from that), most police would rarely become physical to remove someone within a few minutes of arriving on the scene.

    I know a lot of us are trying to clarify what the “real” story is here. I would say one of the real stories here is the fact that the police in America (specifically at airports) have become enforcers of corporations’ rules.

    1. Alan, I see where you’re going. But, I don’t think it’s right to mix the issues. The police reacted beyond bad here. But, no United employee could have reasonably expected that’s what would happen. United could have done more to diffuse the situation, and I hope they’ll learn from this.

  15. I too would have meekly got off the plane but I am so, so glad the Asian gentlemen did not; it is time someone revealed the unfairness of this absurd airline policy that makes it possible for a person with a purchased ticket being denied a seat. It could, for anyone, result in a missed wedding or funeral or important meeting. Totally unfair that this is within the legal rights of an airline. Maybe this will result in some new regulations. We can only hope.

  16. I would like to know what made the crew that required the seats for the next flight from Chicago so special? Why did they absolutely have to be on this flight? Surely United could’ve assigned another crew to man the Chicago flight as per my understanding, flight crews and planes are interchangeable. Just a scenario to consider, if the flight that this crew was on was diverted to another airport due to weather, would United not make sure a alternate crew was there to service the Chicago flight? Just my two cents worth.

    1. Dee, my understanding is this crew needed to get to Louisville. This was likely the last flight of the night. According to the reports, if the crew doesn’t get to Louisville that night, roughly 100 people can’t get to Chicago the following morning. Regardless of how they got to that point, it was clearly the right decision to inconvenience 4 people instead of 100. They just needed to do it in a better way.

  17. Thank you for stating the facts as subjectively as I have seen. I don’t think you are a NAZI. United really screwed up here and the court of public opinion may have long term affects. A reasonable person has a reasonable expectation that if I am allowed to board and take my seat that I can’t just be forced off. A reasonable person also looks both ways before crossing the street. A reasonable person when confronted with a police officer to leave the plane would likely get up and go knowing that the alternative may be force and be injured or charged with resisting. With that said United could have done more and I’m not saying more money, What I am saying is that to drive from OHare to Louisville airport is maybe 5 hours. Yes longer than the flight but not unreasonable. Had the offer been changed from vouchers as I understand the offer was to cash they may have gotten their volunteers. I can tell you I would have for cash to cover my expense and hassle. I assume the need to transport the crew was a last minute decison and not planned ahead of time.

    1. Trm, we’re mostly in agreement here. I don’t think we can say United really screwed up since this is a very unfortunate edge case. They can definitely adjust their policies to make situations like this less likely to happen.

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