"Know this, United Airlines: I am sixty-nine-years-old, the same age as the doctor that your security thugs physically and ruthlessly drug off of that plane in Chicago Sunday night. If I am ever seated and buckled in for one of your flights and your agents try to remove me - I, too will fight! Your company's behavior was disgraceful!Every time I have occasion to take a commercial flight in this country, I return from the experience swearing that the next time I will take the more expensive, more time-consuming, but much less stressful train. I have had a few (damned few) good experiences at airports and on commercial flights, but they are eclipsed by the traveling horrors that seem to be the mainstay of U.S. airports and commercial air flights.
My name is Pa Rock and I approve this message."
Sunday night Dr. David Dao boarded a United Airlines flight in Chicago for a short hop to Louisville, Kentucky, where he reportedly had patients awaiting his care the following day. After getting seated and buckled in, flight attendants announced that the flight was overbooked and asked for four individuals to give up their seats. Even though compensation was offered, no one volunteered to go - probably because the next flight to Louisville wasn't until the following afternoon.
The airline was "overbooked" because United suddenly realized that it had to shuffle four employees to Louisville in order to keep a flight there from being cancelled.
The airline employees then initiated a process that resulted in four "volunteers" being selected by the airline based on several factors. Three of the randomly chosen "volunteers" reluctantly agreed, but Dr. Dao did not. The doctor expressed his view that he had been racially profiled due to being Chinese, and insisted that he had patients to serve in Louisville.
He became irate.
The airline employees called in security and the old physician was removed, dragged from the plane, a process that left him with a busted and bloody lip.
Score one for corporate America.
But the victory of United Airlines was short-lived and very, very Pyrrhic.
Twenty years ago a multi-national airline would have gotten away with that kind of outrageous behavior, but not today. In this day and age when a corporate bully decides to humiliate a little guy, out come the cell phones. In addition to yelling their strong disapproval at what was happening to their fellow passenger, many began video-taping the incident - and most of those videos were posted to the Internet before the plane was even in the air.
The whole world saw what happened - and now United Airlines is in full grovel mode. The corporation's president issued a letter to United employees saying that even thought the incident was regrettable, it had been handled correctly. His cavalier attitude fueled another big surge of resentment against the suddenly beleaguered airline. Then one of the security guards involved in the incident was fired. So much for being "handled correctly."
And those pesky videos were viewed hundreds of millions of times. A news story on NPR this morning talked about outrage in China regarding the incident. One Chinese viewer of the video asked if it was an example of "human rights" in America.
Sadly, it is. Fascism was already well established in the land of the free and the home of the brave - even before the arrival of Donald Trump. It took root in our airports - where paying passengers are routinely lined up, processed, de-shoed, de-belted, searched, relieved of property, sometimes patted down and even undressed, and made to suffer rude treatment - and has spread from there.
Don't "Fly United." In fact, don't fly at all!