The Jury Talks Back


Bloodying and Dragging Paying Customers: The United Airlines Fiasco

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:36 pm

This is one way to “re-accommodate” a paying passenger:

I have no fascinating commentary on this story other than to note that the free market often beats government force. Here, an airline was overbooked — well, not exactly overbooked, as they needed the seats to fly four crew members to another city — and rather than offering an amount sufficient to motivate people to voluntarily give up their seats, they called in the cops. Today, as of this writing, the stock is plunging 3%. That’s $675 million in market capitalization. Even if the stock recovers, there’s the lawsuit and the reputational damage to consider. That alone should easily add up to millions of dollars.

Offering $1000 or $1500 to give up a seat looks better and better, huh?


  1. This story has been ridiculously one-sided. As I posted on the main site: this is a great example of several severe issues with federal regulation of air travel dealing with crew situations, never fully understanding ridiculous terms and agreements when you make a purchase, grown men acting like babies, overuse of force and lack of common sense, lack of empathy and good will by any bystander not willing to trade seats with a doctor, completely misunderstanding of bad PR in a social media world, and our culture’s stupid need for selective outrage of the week.

    The problem with the compensation excuse is that we don’t know the full story about how much they were offering or how the law governing compensation for overbooking played into this situation:

    Comment by Sean — 4/12/2017 @ 6:29 am

  2. Yes, but O’Hare to Louisville takes less than 5 hours to drive, even with awful Chicago traffic. The airline had options to get their flight crew to their destination without pulling passengers off the plane – even if they could bribe the passengers to volunteer.

    Comment by Stephen Pittman — 4/12/2017 @ 9:56 am

  3. Reports are that the crew could not go by land because that would count as time on duty and then they could not operate their next flight under federal laws.

    As far as I can tell, the compensation first offer was $400, and then $800, with no takers. The compensation was in the form of a travel voucher, which would entitle you to fly more crummy flights on United. Big deal.

    I’d bet that they would have gotten plenty of volunteers for three or four hundred in cash. Another stupid thing for United, because they do have to pay cash for involuntary bumping.

    Comment by MikeB — 4/12/2017 @ 12:28 pm

  4. Sean,

    I figure the airlines understand the regulations (absurd or not) better than anyone. They are the ones best able to figure out a better way to handle this situation. Maybe United never had an incentive before, but it does now.

    Comment by DRJ — 4/12/2017 @ 4:47 pm

  5. In fairness, Kevin Williamson agrees with you.

    Comment by DRJ — 4/12/2017 @ 4:54 pm

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