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Man pulled off of overbooked flight UA3411 (ORD-SDF) 9 Apr 2017 {Settlement reached}

Man pulled off of overbooked flight UA3411 (ORD-SDF) 9 Apr 2017 {Settlement reached}

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Old Apr 13, 18, 1:33 pm   -   Wikipost
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Statement from United Airlines Regarding Resolution with Dr. David Dao - released 27 April 2017
CHICAGO, April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- We are pleased to report that United and Dr. Dao have reached an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard flight 3411. We look forward to implementing the improvements we have announced, which will put our customers at the center of everything we do.
DOT findings related to the UA3411 9 April 2017 IDB incident 12 May 2017

What facts do we know?
  • UA3411, operated by Republic Airways, ORD-SDF on Sunday, April 9, 2017. UA3411 was the second to last flight to SDF for United. AA3509 and UA4771 were the two remaining departures for the day. Also, AA and DL had connecting options providing for same-day arrival in SDF.
  • After the flight was fully boarded, United determined four seats were needed to accommodate crew to SDF for a flight on Monday.
  • United solicited volunteers for VDB. (BUT stopped at $800 in UA$s, not cash). Chose not to go to the levels such as 1350 that airlines have been known to go even in case of weather impacted disruption)
  • After receiving no volunteers for $800 vouchers, a passenger volunteered for $1,600 and was "laughed at" and refused, United determined four passengers to be removed from the flight.
  • One passenger refused and Chicago Aviation Security Officers were called to forcibly remove the passenger.
  • The passenger hit the armrest in the aisle and received a concussion, a broken nose, a bloodied lip, and the loss of two teeth.
  • After being removed from the plane, the passenger re-boarded saying "I need to go home" repeatedly, before being removed again.
  • United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said the flight was sold out — but not oversold. Instead, United and regional affiliate Republic Airlines – the unit that operated Flight 3411 – decided they had to remove four passengers from the flight to accommodate crewmembers who were needed in Louisville the next day for a “downline connection.”

United Express Flight 3411 Review and Action Report - released 27 April 2017


Internal Communication by Oscar Munoz
Oscar Munoz sent an internal communication to UA employees (sources: View From The Wing, Chicago Tribune):
Dear Team,

Like you, I was upset to see and hear about what happened last night aboard United Express Flight 3411 headed from Chicago to Louisville. While the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did, to give you a clearer picture of what transpired, I've included below a recap from the preliminary reports filed by our employees.

As you will read, this situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help. Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.

I do, however, believe there are lessons we can learn from this experience, and we are taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding this incident. Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation.


Summary of Flight 3411
  • On Sunday, April 9, after United Express Flight 3411 was fully boarded, United's gate agents were approached by crewmembers that were told they needed to board the flight.
  • We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation) and when we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions.
  • He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft, and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.
  • Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight. He repeatedly declined to leave.
  • Chicago Aviation Security Officers were unable to gain his cooperation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist - running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.
Email sent to all employees at 2:08PM on Tuesday, April 11.
Dear Team,

The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.

I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.

It’s never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We’ll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.

I promise you we will do better.


Statement to customers - 27 April 2017
Each flight you take with us represents an important promise we make to you, our customer. It's not simply that we make sure you reach your destination safely and on time, but also that you will be treated with the highest level of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect.

Earlier this month, we broke that trust when a passenger was forcibly removed from one of our planes. We can never say we are sorry enough for what occurred, but we also know meaningful actions will speak louder than words.

For the past several weeks, we have been urgently working to answer two questions: How did this happen, and how can we do our best to ensure this never happens again?

It happened because our corporate policies were placed ahead of our shared values. Our procedures got in the way of our employees doing what they know is right.

Fixing that problem starts now with changing how we fly, serve and respect our customers. This is a turning point for all of us here at United – and as CEO, it's my responsibility to make sure that we learn from this experience and redouble our efforts to put our customers at the center of everything we do.

That’s why we announced that we will no longer ask law enforcement to remove customers from a flight and customers will not be required to give up their seat once on board – except in matters of safety or security.

We also know that despite our best efforts, when things don’t go the way they should, we need to be there for you to make things right. There are several new ways we’re going to do just that.

We will increase incentives for voluntary rebooking up to $10,000 and will be eliminating the red tape on permanently lost bags with a new "no-questions-asked" $1,500 reimbursement policy. We will also be rolling out a new app for our employees that will enable them to provide on-the-spot goodwill gestures in the form of miles, travel credit and other amenities when your experience with us misses the mark. You can learn more about these commitments and many other changes at hub.united.com.

While these actions are important, I have found myself reflecting more broadly on the role we play and the responsibilities we have to you and the communities we serve.

I believe we must go further in redefining what United's corporate citizenship looks like in our society. If our chief good as a company is only getting you to and from your destination, that would show a lack of moral imagination on our part. You can and ought to expect more from us, and we intend to live up to those higher expectations in the way we embody social responsibility and civic leadership everywhere we operate. I hope you will see that pledge express itself in our actions going forward, of which these initial, though important, changes are merely a first step.

Our goal should be nothing less than to make you truly proud to say, "I fly United."

Ultimately, the measure of our success is your satisfaction and the past several weeks have moved us to go further than ever before in elevating your experience with us. I know our 87,000 employees have taken this message to heart, and they are as energized as ever to fulfill our promise to serve you better with each flight and earn the trust you’ve given us.

We are working harder than ever for the privilege to serve you and I know we will be stronger, better and the customer-focused airline you expect and deserve.

With Great Gratitude,

Oscar Munoz
United Airlines
Poll: Your Opinion of United Airlines
Poll link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KP68GYG
Results link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/results...Q6B2B/instant/
Reference Material

UA's Customer Commitment says:
Occasionally we may not be able to provide you with a seat on a specific flight, even if you hold a ticket, have checked in, are present to board on time, and comply with other requirements. This is called an oversale, and occurs when restrictions apply to operating a particular flight safely (such as aircraft weight limits); when we have to substitute a smaller aircraft in place of a larger aircraft that was originally scheduled; or if more customers have checked in and are prepared to board than we have available seats.

If your flight is in an oversale situation, you will not be denied a seat until we first ask for volunteers willing to give up their confirmed seats. If there are not enough volunteers, we will deny boarding to passengers in accordance with our written policy on boarding priority. If you are involuntarily denied boarding and have complied with our check-in and other applicable rules, we will give you a written statement that describes your rights and explains how we determine boarding priority for an oversold flight. You will generally be entitled to compensation and transportation on an alternate flight.

We make complete rules for the payment of compensation, as well as our policy about boarding priorities, available at airports we serve. We will follow these rules to ensure you are treated fairly. Please be aware that you may be denied boarding without compensation if you do not check in on time or do not meet certain other requirements, or if we offer you alternative transportation that is planned to arrive at your destination or first stopover no later than one hour after the planned arrival time of your original flight.
CoC is here: https://www.united.com/web/en-US/con...-carriage.aspx
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Old Apr 13, 17, 4:49 am
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: NYC: UA 1K, DL Platinum, AAirpass, Avis PC
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Originally Posted by Beckles View Post
As posted in the wiki there are two videos that have been circulated, including one that includes about 80 seconds of discussion before the more widely publicized video:

Discussion between officer and passenger

Followed by

Video of Passenger being removed

The two videos do not appear to be contiguous, i.e., it appears there is a gap of time between them. Needless to say, there was certainly some discussion before the incident, what's shown on the first video is relatively benign. One witness said that the passenger was yelling before being removed, which doesn't appear in any of the videos I've seen.
This part of the incident from your link....

"The man became angry as the manager persisted, Bridges said, eventually yelling. “He said, more or less, ‘I’m being selected because I’m Chinese.’”

Is probably what was called "belligerent" in the internal UA staff report which Oscar initially saw.

No video so in this media circus it's not deemed plausible to have happened. And with the mob mentality what other witness is going to come forward to tell us more about how heated or calm it was with the agent.

I think about 20 - 30 minutes transpired between departure time and the police which is plenty of time for a heated discussion which prompted escalation.

We won't know because this will all settle behind closed doors.
cerealmarketer is offline  
Old Apr 13, 17, 5:14 am
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Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
The passenger was absolutely wrong.
Except for the fact that United broke its own CoC to boot him off the plane and used police in an illegal manner to do so, you mean?
George Purcell is offline  
Old Apr 13, 17, 5:24 am
Join Date: Jan 2017
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Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
It doesn't matter.

People are claiming, "He was already on the plane, so it can't be an IDB!"
Or, "It was only flight crew, so the flight wasn't oversold!"

First, even if they are right, if it's not an IDB situation, then that just means instead of being due IDB compensation for not being allowed to fly the flight, he's due... NO compensation!

Remember, before IDB regs, which only apply in specific situations, if an airline decided they didn't have space for you to fly, you got... nothing! Later flight or refund, your choice.

Second, those people are wrong.

DoT could not possibly intend that an airline can avoid IDB compensation by letting the passenger board THEN throwing him off the flight, claiming, "We didn't deny him boarding, we just didn't let him fly!" If you are NOT on the plane when it departs, you were denied boarding, regardless of whether you were ever temporarily on the plane.

It's not just random FT posters claiming it is not an IDB. Legal experts have opined with this exact opinion in far more detail than any of the posts I have read here.

I'd welcome seeing a rebutting opinion to this article. CoC is a contract and contract law matters are resolved by the court system.
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Old Apr 13, 17, 5:37 am
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Originally Posted by tiharoa View Post
Wouldn't have been cheaper drive their crew to destination?
IIRC Hours of Service requires them to have 10 hours of downtime (shuttle time to Hotel) and 8 hours of sleep allotted for sleep. If your on the road for 5.5 hours the downtime doesn't start until you get to the Hotel.
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Old Apr 13, 17, 5:38 am
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Originally Posted by justinwong View Post
Do airlines who do not practice overselling, like Jetblue, Ryanair, some LCCs cos significantly more than airlines that do practice overselling?
Its not an "apples to apples" comparison - they are offering the same general thing - air transport - but not the exact same thing, so it is hard to say off hand. I'm sure someone cleverer than I could figure out an answer.
fischi is offline  
Old Apr 13, 17, 5:46 am
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Some more on flight 3411

I wanted to write something, and then stumbled upon this.
I am not related or affiliated to UA, but it still describes my thoughts very well.


So annoying how so many people side with him and think he was ok. Acting like a 4 years old
lksf is offline  
Old Apr 13, 17, 5:57 am
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Originally Posted by lksf View Post
I wanted to write something, and then stumbled upon this.
I am not related or affiliated to UA, but it still describes my thoughts very well.


So annoying how so many people side with him and think he was ok. Acting like a 4 years old
Is "she" the new United PR consultant hired in panic trying to test the waters in disguise? There is NO WAY this comes from a "Pilot's wife" unless he married a whole law firm, which is not only unusual but also illegal.
Cofyknsult is offline  
Old Apr 13, 17, 6:00 am
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Originally Posted by strichener View Post
Given that the vast majority of ticket sold are non-refundable, there should be very little extra-cost from banning overbooking. If airlines want to generate more revenue by selling flexible tickets, passengers on the cheapest tickets (who are usually the first to purchase) should not be IDB for a commercial decision by the airline. The airline's argument that it will push up costs is, as usual, swallowed by the gullible.
Not sure I agree. It is not a question of costs, as you point out. Many passengers that miss flights are accommodated on other flights, but that doesn't usually impose a marginal cost on the carrier. But even if they weren't accomodated, if it was 100% free money to the airline, if you ban overbooking, the airlines still lose revenue compared to the current condition, where they can sell a few seats on some flights more than once. I don't personally really care if airlines make money or not, but I do care how it impacts consumers. As most of us on FT often lament, the industry has consolidated itself into pretty close to an oligopoly. Which means the airlines get to set the prices and consumers have to pony up - not a lot of opportunity to let competition work to consumer advantage. If the airlines lose revenue from this double selling, the loss will almost certainly find its way into ticket prices. IMHO, one would be gullible to think it would happen any other way . . .

From my perspective though, the real loss would be to the passengers that would have gotten to fly that now have to take a less desirable route or time because the airline can't sell them a seat it thinks will ultimately be empty. Yes, it sucks that sometimes people get bumped - though some people on FT love gaming the VDB system, or so I've read. But the airlines are pretty good at figuring out how many people will miss a flight and pretty good at finding a price point that meets their needs and the volunteer's needs when they do VDB.

In a VDB, everybody wins - the airline gets to sell the seat twice, the volunteer gets compensation that meets or exceeds the value they place on the delay they experience, and the other passenger gets to fly when and where they wanted. Its the IDB situation where there is no optimal solution - the lack of volunteers mean the airline and passengers couldn't find a price point that was fair compensation for the delay and someone is made worse off. The question, then, is if that loss across all the IDBs exceeds the benefit from getting more people on the flights they want to be on. It would be a good study, but I haven't seen the answer so far. My gut opinion, based on a fair amount of time working in transport policy is that the benefits to the "flyers" far exceeds the loss to the "IDBers". It is totally a function at how good airlines are at keeping IDB down and how much people value convenience. And of course, since I don't have evidence, just opinion, you could certainly have an equally valid justification for the opposite.
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Old Apr 13, 17, 6:06 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Not necessarily. With few competitors, potential customers are much more likely to know their individual products and how the products and service differ compared to each other. It can certainly pay for a firm to attempt to differentiate its product.
That is not at all what happens in the US airline oligopoly.
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Old Apr 13, 17, 6:07 am
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Here is my guess why United CEO went back and forth with his statements.
After his first statement, instead of consulting PR he consulted lawyers and made the 2nd statement (blaming the passenger), then the PR guys came and he made the 3rd statement.

And the lawyers he consulted were experts in handling car accidents, with the motto: never admit you are guilty, never apologize.

Last edited by IntFF; Apr 17, 17 at 3:16 pm
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Old Apr 13, 17, 6:08 am
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Originally Posted by Cofyknsult View Post
Is "she" the new United PR consultant hired in panic trying to test the waters in disguise? There is NO WAY this comes from a "Pilot's wife" unless he married a whole law firm, which is not only unusual but also illegal.
I though of it, but then I figured that the name of the blog didn't really matter for me. Other than the "9/11" crap, which I think is irrelevant and frankly there are many security precautions that I believe 9/11 is only the excuse for them, I totally agree. I can easily think of a dozen scenarios (Airport and off airport) where one should listen to the cop and when they don't it escalates to violence.
Why is this ANY different?
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Old Apr 13, 17, 6:09 am
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Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
Serious. He was asked to leave and refused. That's criminal. He was asked to leave by law enforcement and refused. Criminal again. Had he left when asked in either of those cases everything would have been fine.
Let's just say you're 100% right, United is 100% right according to the letter of the law/CoC, and the passenger is 100% wrong.

Based on the events that unfollowed and the subsequent public attention, how is being 100% right working out for UA so far?
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Old Apr 13, 17, 6:15 am
Join Date: Dec 2009
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Originally Posted by RumPatrol View Post
To utilize the jump seat (if one was even available), the person in the jump seat either has to also have a seat in the passenger cabin OR be type qualified to operate the aircraft (or be an ATC/FAA/NTSB/DoD inspector/observer/evaluator).

Since obviously there was no seat in the cabin, that's out, and it is unclear if the pilots involved were qualified to operate this aircraft. There are a few other exceptions to the jump seat rules, but I believe they would all require approval by the FAA.
You are incorrect. Any pilot who is CASS approved may ride in the cockpit jumpseat at the discretion of the Captain. While technically you become an additional crewmember, you do not need to be qualified to operate the aircraft by any means to ride in a cockpit jumpseat.
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Old Apr 13, 17, 6:15 am
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Originally Posted by fastair View Post
Congress seems to include on board removals in this category in their current inquiry letter to Mr Munoz. In a letter to Oscar regarding this incident, Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). It was also signed by Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) ask the following:

"What is United Airlines' standard operating procedure when deciding to forcibly remove passengers, including those resulting from involuntary denied boarding"

"How many times in the last year has United Airlines removed a passenger that has already boarded a plane due to overbooking or other reasons outside the customer's control? How many of these passengers were forcibly removed?"

"When a passenger is involuntarily denied boarding or asked to deplane due to overbooking, at what stage of the trip does United Airlines provide the passenger with a written statement describing his or her rights and explain why the passenger was involuntarily denied boarding or removed from the aircraft? Was the passenger on Flight 3411 provided these requirements prior to his forcible removal from the aircraft?"

Bolding by me

https://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=3668 (The same letter is posted on other senator's page, such as Jack Reed of Rhode Island...

While the letter clearly QUESTIONS the procedures for "denied boarding" (a term, not an action as defined as refusal to let the person step onto the craft, as they clearly were allowed onto the craft and subsequently removed) to a passenger already onboard, they include it in their question as a set that overlaps a different set of those that are removed. Draw a venn diagram of all passengers. a subset is those removed, another subset is those IDB'd. Those (2) subsets can, and do overlap at times, as is clear in the 1st question by the 21 senators. This MAY change in the future, based on what they find, the future is unknown as to what legislation may come of this.

I haven't read your link yet, I will, but after dinner, I read your argument, and while I believe it to be sound, I don't believe it to be based on the way the DoT has enforced their interpretation historically. As they (thru the power of congress) are the ones that judge the application of the rules, and as it has been the commonly accepted practice throughout US aviation precedent, I still disagree. But of course, the DoT will likely rule or at least comment on this as it is currently under investigation, just like the 21 democratic senators are also.

My issue as those on "your" side of the argument consider it over, that you ARE correct, as a certainty. Current and past practices by the DoT count people who have been removed not due to cause, but due to overbooking, as entitled to IDB protections and compensations. I don't believe any ruling authority that has any say in the matter has ruled that removal due to oversales does not fall under the IDB category, as such, I'm willing to shelve it until one does. The court of FT is not the DoT, not Congress, nor a federal judge. There is a reason that lawyers argue both sides of most of the cases in court, both believe they are right, or can convince the judge/jury that they are, and that the other is wrong.

Where do you fall on an overweight flight after boarding on an aircraft ABOVE the exemption size, where passengers are removed. DO they not count as VDB/IDB because they crossed the threshold of the aircraft, and as such, cannot be removed, and as such, the flight cannot leave? Is this what the regulations are for, to force cancellations? Clearly this is NOT what the regulators intended, as stated in many statements by the DoT over the years. The DoT is not "vindictive", although they can be punitive in so much as to insure future compliance, their goal isn't to force airlines to cncl flights, even though some of their consumer first legislation has had that impact. The laws are there to minimize disruptions to passengers. If by saying that people that crossed the threshold of a plane cannot be denied boarding in order to prevent a flight from cncling (for weight or for lack of crew) then the interpretation by "your side" is clearly AGAINST the intent of the institutions that regulate them.

But you are fighting the English language. someone who had their ticket scanned at the gate, went into the plane, in their seat with seatbelt on has boarded the plane. There is simply no other interpretation that doesn't do violence to plain english.

Once they have boarded pax can still be removed pursuant to the removal provisions in the CoC which include for safety reasons such as overweight aircraft. No reason to pretend "boarding" doesn't mean what it obviously means in order to cover that situation.

United didn't deny boarding to this person. They boarded him. and then they invited him to deplane. He declined and they forcibly removed him but they didn't have cause to do so under CoC provision for removing a pax after boarding.

Their solution was so simple: keep upping the offer to buy people off the plane until 4 people accept. Or get their crew to the destination on another plane.
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Old Apr 13, 17, 6:15 am
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Any person writing the following (especially in relation to a non-security dispute) has automatically disqualified himself/herself in my eyes.

I know you’re all out there screaming that the ‘rules’ are unfair, but I am a pilot wife. I remember 9/11. Do you? I want my husband, the father of my children, to come home.
If we no longer have the right to question a rule for potentially being unfair or even illegal, then we're no better than the worst dictatorships out there. This mentality is what brought about these kinds of power trips and people thinking they can do anything in the name of security if they deem it necessary to act.
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