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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 18, 17, 12:56 am
  #6151  
 
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Originally Posted by sw3 View Post
Sure, but if there comes to be a law prohibiting deplaning passengers after boarding, if the airline follows the law, in this case they would be barred from even considering asking for volunteers so there would be no VDBs, much less IDBs. They would be legally compelled to go on with the departure, that's the point of the example complementing the original post. Same thing would happen if airlines voluntarily get to put this in the COC overriding other clauses that let them take passengers out, they would be breaching the COC if they did anything about this situation.

Some people are saying that, once boarded, passengers should be totally immune from deboarding either voluntary or involuntary for any reason whatsoever that is not related to safety or security. But it should make no sense to put a blanket and absolute ban on DBs just because passengers are boarded or because whatever. A multitude of unforeseen situations can happen and airlines should be able to decide if a situation merits doing VDBs or IDBs at any point, as long as there are clear guidelines that exemplify the kinds of situations and cause-effect relationships that merit so. Perhaps VDBs after boarding, or before boarding but with seats already assigned, and IDBs not due to overbooking, could be documented to the FAA (protecting passengers' privacy especially in medical situations) and such statistics published.
I haven't heard anyone say that we should outlaw voluntary buybacks, as long as they are really voluntary and are free to find the true market price.
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Old Apr 18, 17, 1:21 am
  #6152  
 
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Anyone see this video of the incident? Seems like Dao was very reasonable with the law enforcement prior to being thrown out of his seat. I guess they took the "you'll have to drag me out" literally.
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Old Apr 18, 17, 1:41 am
  #6153  
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Originally Posted by eric.chen3742 View Post
New Footage of United Passenger Dragged Off Plane - YouTube

Anyone see this video of the incident? Seems like Dao was very reasonable with the law enforcement prior to being thrown out of his seat. I guess they took the "you'll have to drag me out" literally.

Anyway you look at it, dragging an elderly 68 year old man like that is barbaric, inhumane and wrong.

But careful, [moderator edit] will tell you it's well within the rights of the airlines and airport authorities to use violent methods to achieve an end goal.

Nothing has changed.

Last edited by Ocn Vw 1K; Apr 18, 17 at 8:10 am Reason: Per FT Rule 12.
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Old Apr 18, 17, 3:07 am
  #6154  
 
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Originally Posted by eric.chen3742 View Post
Anyone see this video of the incident? Seems like Dao was very reasonable with the law enforcement prior to being thrown out of his seat. I guess they took the "you'll have to drag me out" literally.
Wow. Thank goodness he did not say "over my dead body".

Last edited by IncyWincy; Apr 18, 17 at 8:43 am
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Old Apr 18, 17, 6:08 am
  #6155  
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Originally Posted by transportprof View Post
The CEOs have changed, if nothing else.
Just goes to show how little the CEOs matter compared to an entrenched labor force which perpetuates the adversarial us-against-everybody culture.
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Old Apr 18, 17, 7:07 am
  #6156  
 
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Originally Posted by eric.chen3742 View Post
New Footage of United Passenger Dragged Off Plane - YouTube

Anyone see this video of the incident? Seems like Dao was very reasonable with the law enforcement prior to being thrown out of his seat. I guess they took the "you'll have to drag me out" literally.
thanks for posting, I had not seen it. He is very, very reasonable. Firm, and given that United's tossing him from his seat was in violation of the law, and its CoC, entirely appropriate. The reason why United gave up trying to claim Dao was "belligerent" was that he was clearly not and the video must made their spin look even worse.

Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
Just goes to show how little the CEOs matter compared to an entrenched labor force which perpetuates the adversarial us-against-everybody culture.
I think it is unfair to blame United's employees for this situation. Jeff and his crew took away flexibility for VDBs, replacing it was a hard cap, and calling cops as need was the plan. Pre-2012 policy changes, this would not have happened on pmUA. The employee was herself surly and unhelpful, but in United's eyes she had a job to do, which was get this guy off the plane, offering no more than $800 and a flight Monday afternoon. As Oscar told every single UA employee:

"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 recall when the GA's got "training" back in 2012, which was basically "don't deviate from policy or get written up", this same "training" was repeated in 2013. Pre-2012 I found pmUA staff to be helpful and they always found a way to fix problems. It was only post 2012 that the current "follow the book or else" system came down, and that agents/FAs, etc get surly, knowing the confrontation that is likely to come in situations like this, well its a product of Jeff's system, not a bug introduced by the employees.
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Old Apr 18, 17, 7:15 am
  #6157  
 
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Oscar, nice letter written by your PR company. However, totally unacceptable since YOU did not PERSONALLY apologize when you said:
1. The passenger was belligerent.
2. The employees did the correct process.

Where is your admission of making a HUGE mistake?
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Old Apr 18, 17, 7:52 am
  #6158  
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
I think it is unfair to blame United's employees for this situation... Pre-2012 policy changes, this would not have happened on pmUA... It was only post 2012 that the current "follow the book or else" system came down...
Hi, spin88, long time no talk.

It is true that Smisek-era policies made things worse. But it is also true that anger and confrontation have been hallmarks of United employee culture for decades. United's front-liners:

  • Hated Dick Ferris (1979-87), mocked and undermined his Allegis deal, forced its collapse and his resignation.
  • Hated Stephen Wolf (1987-94) and forced his resignation as a condition of ratifying the ESOP.
  • Hated Gerry Greenwald (1994-99) although he brought financial stability and profit. Forced him out too.
  • Hated Dick Goodwin (1999-01), inflicted the Summer from Hell on customers to damage their own enterprise and humiliate him, and forced his resignation too after he told them the truth, post-9/11 -- that the company was at risk of perishing.
  • Hated Glenn Tilton (2002-11) while he protected the employees by abusing the bankruptcy laws, slaved to make UA look good for acquisition (they wore "Glenn Must Go" bracelets), and rejoiced when Continental management rode in to dislodge him.
  • Turned on Jeff Smisek (2011-15) fast, and hated him too. (In fairness a lot us of shared this view.) Incredibly they now often claim United's "downfall" started with Smisek.
  • Have not exactly blossomed into happy friendly pixies under Munoz.

Now, hate one or two CEOs: fine, par for the course. Eagerly sabotage literally every management throughout the entire 40-year deregulation era: bizarre, and in my view unfixable by any CEO, not Munoz nor anyone who follows him.

This entrenched, bitter, adversarial mindset drives the company's service zeitgeist - pure and simple. It is why the Dao video resonates worldwide. You look at it and say: yup, that illustrates how United feels to customers. I can identify.

The fiction that this airline was Candyland before Smisek and a smoldering hellscape afterwards is just that: fiction.

To your point above about restrictive post-2011 policies:

Everyone, even Munoz, blames restrictive policies and procedures for the Dao outcome. But a lot of us believe United's service problems stem from untouchable employees free to ignore policies and procedures, or make up their own -- from FAs inflight who discard service elements or invent fake "FAA rules," to gate agents who close the doors early to frustrate late-running connecting pax. They too often freelance their own brutal problem-solving methods -- which alienate thousands.

That's where the stress of flying United comes from: a number of these people do whatever they want, and you as the passenger have no comeback, recourse, or standing.

You're at the mercy of an indifferent, sometimes vindictive, employee base -- workers that have seen CEOs come, seen them go, hated all of them, will probably hate the next one, might hate you too, and will certainly evade or outlast whatever weak-kneed "reforms" emerge from Willis Tower.

Last edited by BearX220; Apr 18, 17 at 7:59 am
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Old Apr 18, 17, 8:07 am
  #6159  
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Originally Posted by eric.chen3742 View Post
New Footage of United Passenger Dragged Off Plane - YouTube

Anyone see this video of the incident? Seems like Dao was very reasonable with the law enforcement prior to being thrown out of his seat. I guess they took the "you'll have to drag me out" literally.
That video's been around for a week now, including in the wiki of this thread.

The only thing I would point out is that the end of that video is not contiguous with the beginning of the other widely circulated video, with those two videos we still don't know what happened between the end of the conversation in that video and the beginning of the other video.
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Old Apr 18, 17, 8:12 am
  #6160  
 
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Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
Hi, spin88, long time no talk.

It is true that Smisek-era policies made things worse. But it is also true that anger and confrontation have been hallmarks of United employee culture for decades. United's front-liners:

  • Hated Dick Ferris (1979-87), mocked and undermined his Allegis deal, forced its collapse and his resignation.
  • Hated Stephen Wolf (1987-94) and forced his resignation as a condition of ratifying the ESOP.
  • Hated Gerry Greenwald (1994-99) although he brought financial stability and profit. Forced him out too.
  • Hated Dick Goodwin (1999-01), inflicted the Summer from Hell on customers to damage their own enterprise and humiliate him, and forced his resignation too after he told them the truth, post-9/11 -- that the company was at risk of perishing.
  • Hated Glenn Tilton (2002-11) while he protected the employees by abusing the bankruptcy laws, slaved to make UA look good for acquisition (they wore "Glenn Must Go" bracelets), and rejoiced when Continental management rode in to dislodge him.
  • Turned on Jeff Smisek (2011-15) fast, and hated him too. (In fairness a lot us of shared this view.) Incredibly they now often claim United's "downfall" started with Smisek.
  • Have not exactly blossomed into happy friendly pixies under Munoz.

Now, hate one or two CEOs: fine, par for the course. Eagerly sabotage literally every management throughout the entire 40-year deregulation era: bizarre, and in my view unfixable by any CEO, not Munoz nor anyone who follows him.

This entrenched, bitter, adversarial mindset drives the company's service zeitgeist - pure and simple. It is why the Dao video resonates worldwide. You look at it and say: yup, that illustrates how United feels to customers. I can identify.

The fiction that this airline was Candyland before Smisek and a smoldering hellscape afterwards is just that: fiction.

To your point above about restrictive post-2011 policies:

Everyone, even Munoz, blames restrictive policies and procedures for the Dao outcome. But a lot of us believe United's service problems stem from untouchable employees free to ignore policies and procedures, or make up their own -- from FAs inflight who discard service elements or invent fake "FAA rules," to gate agents who close the doors early to frustrate late-running connecting pax. They too often freelance their own brutal problem-solving methods -- which alienate thousands.

That's where the stress of flying United comes from: a number of these people do whatever they want, and you as the passenger have no comeback, recourse, or standing.

You're at the mercy of an indifferent, sometimes vindictive, employee base -- workers that have seen CEOs come, seen them go, hated all of them, will probably hate the next one, might hate you too, and will certainly evade or outlast whatever weak-kneed "reforms" emerge from Willis Tower.
United had a toxic culture between management and labor, but I could say the same thing about AA, NW, and Delta as well. Going back, CO/Eastern were similar. I can count on one hand the CEOs that were actually liked by airline employees. I fly Delta a lot, and their employees did not love Anderson, although the smarter of them admitted he did a good job. The "hatred" of Tilton was mostly by pilots for his failure to order new aircraft. They correctly saw him managing for merger, not for growth that would give them opportunity.

Going back to the SFH, lots of bad eggs at UA. But before then (c1993-1998) I can't recall any bad experiences with UA staff. Nor when I came back to UA in 2006, until March 2012 did I have any bad experiences. Part of that was GS protected me, but I think you will get similar responses from UA elites, UA generally treated us well. Management had made it very clear to employees that they would treat elites right. Now the general public? United was not great... To use your analogy, pre-2012 United was a reliable customer service experience for elites, and at times a smoldering hellscape for non-elites, after February 2012 elites got tossed into the "smoldering hellscape" and Jeff turned up the temperature and increased the lava flows.

I do think the history was what initially tripped up Oscar though. Oscar felt he needed to regain the trust of employees lost by Jeff, and at times this has led him astray. The "I've got your back" e-mail he sent which I quoted from, was what employees (including those posting in this tread) wanted to hear, but was a PR hellscape.
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Old Apr 18, 17, 8:41 am
  #6161  
 
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I'm hearing backlash from people because the email only went out to 1ks apparently and us less lowly fliers are getting ignored. Oscar should have sent this out to everyone as this is an apology. To me it's a slap in the face
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Old Apr 18, 17, 8:50 am
  #6162  
 
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Originally Posted by Rdenney View Post
I haven't heard anyone say that we should outlaw voluntary buybacks, as long as they are really voluntary and are free to find the true market price.
You mean sell-back.
It is whether the passengers are willing here to sell as UA is certainly willing to buy. The Q is whether anyone will sell, willingly.
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Old Apr 18, 17, 8:52 am
  #6163  
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Originally Posted by cubs105 View Post
I'm hearing backlash from people because the email only went out to 1ks apparently and us less lowly fliers are getting ignored. Oscar should have sent this out to everyone as this is an apology. To me it's a slap in the face
There seem to be plenty of GS/1Ks who believe all other customers are insignificant. United apparently shares their view.

But as I have said many times on FT, you cannot fly UA to profit on 3 to 4 percent of the customer base and say the hell with the rest of you.
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Old Apr 18, 17, 9:04 am
  #6164  
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Originally Posted by transportprof View Post
Apologies if I missed this from the >6,000 previous posts, but how did Dr. Dao manage to run back on to the plane? Like CDTRaveler, the (two) times I've been on flights when LEOs had to extract a pax, they were taken down to the tarmac and put into a squad car. From what is implied in the Dao coverage that I've read, he was extracted up the jetbridge and back into the terminal and then ran back onto the aircraft (?). That would seem problematic on a number of fronts. If you have someone who is an alleged security risk, the last place you should extract them to is back into the sterile area of the terminal, I would think.
Originally Posted by HMO View Post
It seems that first he agreed with the request, went out of the plane,
[speculation on] disagreed with the offer [speculation off],
came back to his seat, then the LEOs arrived and removed him from his seat.
Originally Posted by FWAAA View Post
No, that is not the sequence of events.
Could you then please elucidate us about it?
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Old Apr 18, 17, 9:11 am
  #6165  
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I don't think it's feasible to require that everyone who boards always travels on the flight:

Mistakes can happen, such as duplicate boarding passes. Rare but not impossible.

Broken seats can be discovered after boarding.

Even UA 3411. If it's true that the deadheading crew was properly booked onto the flight more than an hour in advance, then what do the rules say should happen if either the information wasn't communicated to the GAs or if they mistakenly didn't notice it until boarding was complete. I don't understand how the new rules would handle the situation.

In fact, thinking about cases where there are simply more passengers that have boarded (ignoring anyone who can travel as a lap infant for simplicity) than there are useable seats, would UA just say that it would be a safety issue for two individuals to occupy the same seat and therefore boot remove someone under that allowed cause?
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