NOT-SO-FRIENDLY SKIES: THE INCIDENT AT UNITED AIRLINES

By Sami Leder

Who doesn’t love the exhilarating anticipation and excitement one feels when their flight is about to take off? Kicking your shoes off, curling up with a good book or some headphones, and musing about your destination. However, on United Airlines flight 3411 on April 9th, passengers’ eager daydreams were in for a rude awakening. A passenger aboard this United Airlines flight headed from Chicago to Kentucky was dragged from his seat by United security personnel when he declined to yield his seat to a United staff member.

The alarming episode grasped national attention and media coverage when other passengers aboard the flight caught the rumpus on video and uploaded the footage to social media platforms such as Twitter, where they quickly blew up.

To better understand exactly what happened, here is the story and order of events according to eyewitnesses: Like nearly all commercial airlines, United overbooks their flights in case a passenger or two doesn’t board the aircraft for whatever reason. However, nearly every customer who purchased a ticket on flight 3411 appeared at the plane, leaving some United employees without a seat.

In order to make room, 69-year-old passenger David Dao was asked by airline staff to forfeit his plane seat to an unseated employee and to exit the aircraft. Dao refused to obey the order, to which United security officers responded by body-slamming and physically forcing the man out of his plane seat, knocking him unconscious. The officers then dragged Dao down the aisle by his arms, towards the aircraft’s exit.

Several present customers who also viewed the fracas recorded videos of the melee, later publicizing them online. The videos soon went viral, garnering more than 6.8 million views in under a day and being reshared over 87,000 times.  

After receiving a surplus of backlash, chief executive of United Airlines Oscar Munoz issued an apology on April 10th;

“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers,” Munoz expressed. “Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly with him and further address and resolve this situation.”

In an ensuing statement released the following day, Munoz also branded the scuffle as “truly horrific” and acknowledged the feelings of “outrage, anger, disappointment” that numerous people around the world held towards the incident and United. “No one should ever be mistreated this way,” he commented, apologizing and assuming complete liability for the disturbance.

Although you most likely were not aboard flight 3411, how would you react to witnessing a similar situation? If you have been paying close attention to our own environment here at POMS, you may have discerned that not everyone is always shown courtesy and/or civility. Despite that those occurrences are clearly on a much smaller scale than the affair at United, you may be able to absorb some insight from this happening and apply it to your own daily life. Would you condone the style of behavior displayed by United?

 

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