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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

Videos

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.

Oscar

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.

Sincerely,

Oscar
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
CEO
United Airlines
Aftermath
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 16, 17, 6:06 pm
  #6016  
 
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Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
6000!!!!
This thread is now 300 some posts away from being the most commented thread on the United forum. It certainly got there the fastest.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 6:27 pm
  #6017  
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Originally Posted by LordHamster View Post
This thread is now 300 some posts away from being the most commented thread on the United forum. It certainly got there the fastest.
Certainly the greatest thread ever in the history of flyertalk.com

People are angry. People want action. People want results. Heads must roll.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 6:34 pm
  #6018  
 
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Subordination to a supposed collective greater good

"1984 by George Orwell is a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party. Life in the Oceania province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance, and incessant public mind control, accomplished with a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (Ingsoc), which is administered by a privileged Inner Party elite. Yet they too are subordinated to the totalitarian cult of personality of Big Brother, the defined party leader who rules with a philosophy that decries individuality and reason as thought crimes; thus the people of Oceania are subordinated to a supposed collective greater good." (from understanding Politics – Study Guide) emphasis added

The comments about the "greater good" in this thread take me back to a political theory course that I took around 1972. The back and forth banter in this thread could be used as assigned readings in college courses in several different disciplines.

Last edited by BF263533; Apr 16, 17 at 6:40 pm
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Old Apr 16, 17, 6:35 pm
  #6019  
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Originally Posted by sw3 View Post
Where in the COC does it say that it cannot be used for that reason? The COC cites force majeure/unforeseeable conditions as a reason to refuse transport to any passenger at any point. Can't find anything like "except for ___" to limit that clause.
Perhaps it would be easier to understand your point of view if you could outline how the 'force majeure/unforeseeable conditions' exceptions help you personally? What is the benefit to you (or me) in allowing UA to invoke this exception?

In any event, I would disagree that a sudden crew movement is unforeseeable. They happen daily across the airline network and are part of running the business. Inbound flights are delayed daily, again, part of normal business operations, and crews get accommodated accordingly. It's worth noting that these exceptions were not mentioned or relied upon by UA at any time in their justification of the removal of the passenger.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 6:38 pm
  #6020  
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Originally Posted by wolf72 View Post
Certainly the greatest thread ever in the history of flyertalk.com

People are angry. People want action. People want results. Heads must roll.
This is an excellent explanation as to why this story has legs.

Air travel is different from other sectors in degree but not in kind. In a few generations, it has gone from a Tomorrowland-style marvel, accompanied by luxury service, to a series of petty frustrations and humiliations. Like rail travel, which was also once steeped in a certain glamour, it has suffered the effects of a lack of competition and declining investment in public infrastructure. Airlines needlessly demean customers, who are gouged for fees to goose the margins of tottering industry monoliths like United. The process begins when you first shop for your ticket. It is not enough to book passage on a plane. Instead, you are besieged with offers — to book bags, to upgrade, to get more leg room, to gain access to a preflight lounge, to board earlier, to acquire insurance — each of which costs an additional fee. The inducements continue all the way through check-in at the airport and practically until you land at your destination. Any flier who has tried to nap after takeoff knows the exasperation of trying to block out a credit-card ad delivered by airplane public-address system.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/poste...=.e97e5b1bf2cf

People are fed up with how they are treated once they board an airplane.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 7:00 pm
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Originally Posted by halls120 View Post
This is an excellent explanation as to why this story has legs.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/poste...=.e97e5b1bf2cf

People are fed up with how they are treated once they board an airplane.

And are fed up even before they board the plane.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 7:25 pm
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Originally Posted by halls120 View Post
This is an excellent explanation as to why this story has legs.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/poste...=.e97e5b1bf2cf

People are fed up with how they are treated once they board an airplane.
Of course it was luxurious back then...look at the pricing then versus now. But people have demonstrated over and over again, they want price first and foremost.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 7:39 pm
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Originally Posted by deskover54 View Post
Of course it was luxurious back then...look at the pricing then versus now. But people have demonstrated over and over again, they want price first and foremost.
I don't think people want to fly Air Stalag no matter how cheap. Take the meals, shorten the seat pitch, charge for everything, but the line gets drawn at turning an aircraft into a prison camp.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 7:43 pm
  #6024  
 
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It's going to be interesting how they'll implement their "we'll never IDB you once you're seated" policy for various fringe cases that arise.

Three examples, all of which happened to me.

You sit in your seat, and discover it's broken. They can't fix it before takeoff and its not safe to sit in. The flight is full. Do they deny boarding from a person in a subsequent boarding group? (In my case, it was "NO")

You sit in your seat and a Passenger of Size sits next to you, taking 12" of your seat. You can't sit down without leaning over and are very uncomforbable. Have you been IDBd after boarding? (I think so, but does the Airline?). Will the airline now have enough _chutzpah_ to remove the Passenger of Size without putting you in the middle of this, or forcing you to force the issue before they do something? (In my case, I was fortunate to find an empty seat in E-, but I lost my E+ seat. I don't know what would have happened if the flight was full. This pax couldn't even put the armrest down, but the airline didn't want to make an issue of it.)

You sit in your ticketed seat, which had been upgraded a few minutes ago (you're in the upgraded seat which you're holding the ticket for) and then the airline decides to downgrade you--to a worse seat than you had before. (An E- middle where you had an E+ aisle) Is this an IDB? You're being asked to leave your seat.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 7:47 pm
  #6025  
 
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Originally Posted by sw3 View Post
Doesn't matter that the pax had already boarded, even if the plane was already taxiing or even departed it could have been turned back and pax deplaned per the force majeure and unforeseeable conditions clause of the COC about the possibility of denying service to anyone at any point for that kind reason. This is not only in UA's contract but also AA's, DL's, WN's. So indeed the 4 passengers had already boarded legally but they were also legally requested to deplane as long as this came with the relevant compensation and as long as it's demonstrated that it was because of an unforeseen circumstance.
We've spent thousands of posts hashing the details of the CofC. If you can't review that, then at least provide the exact location of the clause in the CofC that you are referring to. I think you'll find it's not there.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 8:02 pm
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Originally Posted by sw3 View Post
Force majeure = "unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract", "an event or effect that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled", "an unexpected event [...] which prevents someone from doing something that is written in a legal agreement". Totally legal as long as the airline proves it, which they should do bringing up schedules and flight records from the relevant flights (UA4680 GJT-DEN, UA4600 DEN-SDF, UA3411 ORD-SDF, UA4766 SDF-DEN) so the timeline of events make it clear the sudden crew requirement was unforeseeable.
In major contracts you see the force majeure clause, but it is usually applies to a very unforeseen and often rare event such as a hurricane, earthquake, volcano eruption, or certain acts of war if there is not a separate war clause. And it would probably require a closer relationship to the specific flight.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 8:09 pm
  #6027  
 
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Originally Posted by fastair View Post
Funny how AA just changed their CoC this week to protect you from IDB once boarded. One would think posters have info different from how the DoT has enforced this in the past, how AA has defined the IDB rules before this change, how professors of aviation have stated that it falls under IDB, how the mainstream major media has qualified it as an IDB. Remember who the regulators are, they are NOT a group of lawyers practicing mock court, but are the DoT. And I'd look up the DoT refs, compare them to the airlines CoC, and look for differences. Pre-AA change this week, other than adding the name of the carriers to the individual CoCs, the wording has been the same, as they are all cut and pasted from the DoT. I can't guarantee I'm right anymore than you can. This thread reference a group of lawyers interpretation that has not been tested in an enforcement case yet. As such, my advice is to not rule out the historical use by both airlines and the DoT, that removal after seated for oversales, DOES fall under the IDB regs. If you think it doesn't, be open to the fact that this view has not been tested yet. Remember, JDs argue on both sides of just about every court case. 50% of them are ruled against. I think dao's atty is considered at the top of his field, yet he didn't question this at all in his appearance, let alone state it as a fact. Do you think his team believes with 100% certainty that you are correct?
[looking at his ID card--yup--I see a triskelion on it--but not aviation] Government regulators are indeed not always lawyers. But they are political--they can't help it. When Senators start throwing questions at them through the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, they will be extremely cautious about expressing a truly unpopular view. As they should be, unless it is related to safety and security. Also, they are subject to having their interpretations of their own regulations revised by the courts and also by the Administration. Only Congress can change the United States Code (or the Supreme Court), but the Code of Federal Regulations, which derives its authority from the USC, can be reinterpreted much more easily.

The labeling of this situation as an involuntary denied boarding has not been tested in court. But Munoz (correctly) stated that the flight had already boarded when the incident took place. I think he'll have a hard time backing off on that description.

One outcome of this incident may be that "boarding" gets a more careful definition, defined in the CofC and possibly codified in the CFR.

But even if it does pass muster as an IDB, the provisions in the CofC for an IDB do not state that a passenger can be removed once seated, and certainly not by force. It only says they can be denied boarding; it does not say that they can be denied continued seating. That's the main issue here: Does the CofC, even in an IDB situation that is found to apply to someone already in his seat, allow the use of force to enforce it? That would open a door to all manner of force being applied inappropriately, it seems to me.

Last edited by Rdenney; Apr 16, 17 at 8:18 pm
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Old Apr 16, 17, 8:09 pm
  #6028  
 
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Originally Posted by fastair View Post
Funny how AA just changed their CoC this week to protect you from IDB once boarded. One would think posters have info different from how the DoT has enforced this in the past, how AA has defined the IDB rules before this change, how professors of aviation have stated that it falls under IDB, how the mainstream major media has qualified it as an IDB. Remember who the regulators are, they are NOT a group of lawyers practicing mock court, but are the DoT. And I'd look up the DoT refs, compare them to the airlines CoC, and look for differences. Pre-AA change this week, other than adding the name of the carriers to the individual CoCs, the wording has been the same, as they are all cut and pasted from the DoT. I can't guarantee I'm right anymore than you can. This thread reference a group of lawyers interpretation that has not been tested in an enforcement case yet. As such, my advice is to not rule out the historical use by both airlines and the DoT, that removal after seated for oversales, DOES fall under the IDB regs. If you think it doesn't, be open to the fact that this view has not been tested yet. Remember, JDs argue on both sides of just about every court case. 50% of them are ruled against. I think dao's atty is considered at the top of his field, yet he didn't question this at all in his appearance, let alone state it as a fact. Do you think his team believes with 100% certainty that you are correct?
Your CEO didn't seem to leave much doubt in his statement "We are not going to put a law enforcement official onto a plane to take them off … to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger. We can't do that."

After the congressional hearings start don't you think the DOT is going to review all of UA's IDB and VDB practices and issue some sort of fine and change in practice? don't you think that is why there have already been changes put in place by the other carriers? Do you really think that UA wants their CofC litigated in court, particularly when they have physical blood on their hands? The DOT is a regulator that can have pressure/legislation applied by congress just like any other alphabet agency, I wouldn't rule that out after this incident. Trump wasn't impressed.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 8:28 pm
  #6029  
 
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Originally Posted by reamworks View Post
It's going to be interesting how they'll implement their "we'll never IDB you once you're seated" policy for various fringe cases that arise.

Three examples, all of which happened to me.

You sit in your seat, and discover it's broken. They can't fix it before takeoff and its not safe to sit in. The flight is full. Do they deny boarding from a person in a subsequent boarding group? (In my case, it was "NO")

You sit in your seat and a Passenger of Size sits next to you, taking 12" of your seat. You can't sit down without leaning over and are very uncomforbable. Have you been IDBd after boarding? (I think so, but does the Airline?). Will the airline now have enough _chutzpah_ to remove the Passenger of Size without putting you in the middle of this, or forcing you to force the issue before they do something? (In my case, I was fortunate to find an empty seat in E-, but I lost my E+ seat. I don't know what would have happened if the flight was full. This pax couldn't even put the armrest down, but the airline didn't want to make an issue of it.)

You sit in your ticketed seat, which had been upgraded a few minutes ago (you're in the upgraded seat which you're holding the ticket for) and then the airline decides to downgrade you--to a worse seat than you had before. (An E- middle where you had an E+ aisle) Is this an IDB? You're being asked to leave your seat.
The first two cases are specifically reasons to deny a person seating (the passenger in question if there is a seat malfunction, and the person who is too large to fit in the seat in your second example). Those are both listed in Rule 21 of the CofC, which provide reasons why a person denied the right to be on the airplane.

If I get dumped out of an upgrade seat, and my usual aisle-exit-row is now taken, then I grumble, sit in the seat they give me, and wear my frowny face for a while. Yes, it's happened to me. But when it happened, the news was given to me with politeness and concern--clearly by the United employees not being discussed in this thread. Yes, there are a lot of great United employees, but there are too many who are not. I do not see that as IDB--I was not denied boarding. I was simply denied my seating preference. I still get what I paid for. Had I been upgraded from paid E+, I would expect a refund of the E+ upgrade fee.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 8:42 pm
  #6030  
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Originally Posted by Rdenney View Post
We've spent thousands of posts hashing the details of the CofC. If you can't review that, then at least provide the exact location of the clause in the CofC that you are referring to. I think you'll find it's not there.
I find it's there:

RULE 21 REFUSAL OF TRANSPORT

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:

C. Force Majeure and Other Unforeseeable Conditions – Whenever such action is necessary or advisable by reason of weather or other conditions beyond UA’s control including, but not limited to, acts of God, force majeure, strikes, civil commotions, embargoes, wars, hostilities, terrorist activities, or disturbances, whether actual, threatened, or reported.
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