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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 20, 17, 10:24 am
  #6361  
 
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Originally Posted by fastair View Post
Didn't he originate in LAX? The "I've been traveling for 24 hours" IMHO was just an excuse to try to pressure them to violate the established policy and to deflect removal to any other person. Either that, or that if he had taken the bump, he WOULD have been traveling for 24 hours as the protection was not until the next day, and his wording was poor (although that same thing as well would apply to any other person as the next confirm-able flight was the next day.) It was similar to the "I am a physician" statement, an attempt to say someone else, anyone else is less deserving than me to be removed, pick them. No one has a 24 hour journey time from their vacation in CA via this routing LAX-ORD-SDF without building a stopover in or significant irrops. People (on this thread) had speculated that he connected in from Asia, to get to that 24 hours, but from the facts that have been presented, he did not, he originated in LAX and any other flights added to increase his journey time are a rewriting of history rationalization to increase the perceived insult to the doctor.
At Dr. Dao's lawyers press conference I recall Dr. Dao's daughter saying he had traveled from Asia.

Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
Eyes opened and eyebrows raised, these past ten days, by how many Americans deeply favor blind-and-dumb submission / compliance to whatever authority -- state or private. I see this more on Facebook, and to some extent Reddit, than on FT.

There are a lot of keyboard authoritarians out there who blame Dr. Dao backwards and forwards because he did not instantly submit, whether the law / CofC / etc. were on his side or not.
Perfect turn of phrase and exactly correct!
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Old Apr 20, 17, 10:39 am
  #6362  
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TOPIC REMINDER

The topic of this thread is the UA3411 incident; UA actions and customer reactions are clearly legitimate topics.

BUT as covered in FT Rules and Moderator Statement in this thread's wiki

-- Do not discuss / label the other posters -- this tend to be dismissive of the posters and is clearly outside the FT Rules

-- Let's stay focus on this incident -- making comments about society in general or much large societal issues are topics for OMNI

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Old Apr 20, 17, 11:16 am
  #6363  
 
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Originally Posted by flyerbaby19 View Post
I assume the reason UA doesn't allow agents to use "common sense" to increase voucher amounts is because someone ran a calculation. You say increase it from $800 to $1200 is just common sense. Well, I don't know the numbers, but there are probably thousands of VDB's throughout the year. Someone calculated it's cheaper to pay IDB compensation than raise to $1200. The cost of each one going up by $400 is probably huge. Is it as huge as the settlement? Who knows...but nobody expected that scenario to happen. Even so, say it's a million dollars...their analysts may still deem keeping it $800 was the right financial decision. There's no way to know which .000001% will escalate to what happened to the doctor. So you keep all at a $800 cap and in the long run save money.

I also don't agree that it's obviously not IDB. I've read the COC sections multiple times and I think there are folks on this board, myself included, who could see the argument that this was IDB. So just because it's clear to you, doesn't mean everyone universally agrees. Unfortunately, this will probably not make it to trial, so we won't have a legal answer.
I agree, the policies were derived from a bean counter with a spreadsheet. They also assumed that the policies could be enforced with the aid of airport police, and didn't include the possibility we'd get a passenger like Dr. Dao and sympathetic fellow passengers with cell phone cameras. It also didn't include the intangible effects of numerous passengers who have felt run over with limited travel options and airline CoCs which favor the airlines at their expense. That's why this story has resonance. Elite, business, frequent flyers may not get this - they are insulated from the worst of these practices, heck, they even get a special apology letter from the CEO to emphasize they aren't the same as the average Joe.

My prediction - some enterprising lawyer is going to see class action opportunities and the legal issues for United are going to continue on.
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Old Apr 20, 17, 11:40 am
  #6364  
 
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Originally Posted by DrPSB View Post
I agree, the policies were derived from a bean counter with a spreadsheet. They also assumed that the policies could be enforced with the aid of airport police, and didn't include the possibility we'd get a passenger like Dr. Dao and sympathetic fellow passengers with cell phone cameras. It also didn't include the intangible effects of numerous passengers who have felt run over with limited travel options and airline CoCs which favor the airlines at their expense. That's why this story has resonance. Elite, business, frequent flyers may not get this - they are insulated from the worst of these practices, heck, they even get a special apology letter from the CEO to emphasize they aren't the same as the average Joe.
Bingo! I've seen outrage by Status flyers at the slightest reduction of their expected level of service while they tsk-tsk steerage passengers for complaining about being treated worse than cargo.
Add the opinion of some folks that compliance with anything said by anyone in a uniform is mandatory for an orderly society and .- voila! -
6200+ posts on a board mainly used by frequent, knowledgeable flyers about how UA treated a - what's the term around here? - oh yes, a kettle.
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Old Apr 20, 17, 11:58 am
  #6365  
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Originally Posted by FrequentUnitedFlyer View Post
I agree this, and I would have done the same if I were in this situation.

But this was not what Oscar did. He attacked the customer first without getting all the facts. I don't think he knew back then whether the GA followed the SOP or not. The safest thing is to offer his sympathy and say that he believes all United employees are trying their best to serve our customer. A generic statement can calm everyone down. Why adding more fuel to the fire? Because now people would think that Oscar was lied to. Who lied to him about the customer being disruptive and belligerent? Who else? I think this puts the GA in a much worse situation.
i think by attacking the pax he was having the employees back. unruly pax are dragged off planes (most the time they deserve it), and i think at that time it was perceived as an unruly pax. for what it is worth. easy to say in hindsight it was a screw up.
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Old Apr 20, 17, 12:01 pm
  #6366  
 
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Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
Bingo! I've seen outrage by Status flyers at the slightest reduction of their expected level of service while they tsk-tsk steerage passengers for complaining about being treated worse than cargo.
Add the opinion of some folks that compliance with anything said by anyone in a uniform is mandatory for an orderly society and .- voila! -
6200+ posts on a board mainly used by frequent, knowledgeable flyers about how UA treated a - what's the term around here? - oh yes, a kettle.
I hope not to run afoul of the moderator here but the different views of this incident from the average flyer versus those who are invested in the loyalty program United offers is, I think, worth commenting on. And United in issuing a special apology to their higher revenue generating customers further illuminates this difference. Loyalty programs by design are created to stoke the ego of customers who bring in revenue, and let's face it, this is a two way street. Who doesn't like to be told they are special, be treated with privilege, and be able to watch from a distance as the 'gate lice' and 'kettles' fight for overhead bin space while they are ensconced up front with a cold beverage in hand. But as a consequence, it also is going to lead to a polarized view of how bad this incident was.
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Old Apr 20, 17, 12:02 pm
  #6367  
 
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Originally Posted by cur View Post
i think by attacking the pax he was having the employees back. unruly pax are dragged off planes (most the time they deserve it), and i think at that time it was perceived as an unruly pax. for what it is worth. easy to say in hindsight it was a screw up.
Saying anything about the situation before all the facts are known is irresponsible, especially for someone in a CEO role. I don't think he qualified his statements with "I would guess that..." or "I think it's likely that..." either.
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Old Apr 20, 17, 12:32 pm
  #6368  
 
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Originally Posted by DrPSB View Post
I hope not to run afoul of the moderator here but the different views of this incident from the average flyer versus those who are invested in the loyalty program United offers is, I think, worth commenting on. And United in issuing a special apology to their higher revenue generating customers further illuminates this difference. Loyalty programs by design are created to stoke the ego of customers who bring in revenue, and let's face it, this is a two way street. Who doesn't like to be told they are special, be treated with privilege, and be able to watch from a distance as the 'gate lice' and 'kettles' fight for overhead bin space while they are ensconced up front with a cold beverage in hand. But as a consequence, it also is going to lead to a polarized view of how bad this incident was.
Agreed that the ivory tower perspective from some of the FT community is not shared by the ordinary traveler who is unfamiliar with all the FT lingo. The dichotomy is particularly borne out with this incident.
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Old Apr 20, 17, 12:53 pm
  #6369  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Common sense would have been to increase the offer until four volunteers were found.

Common sense would have been for UA staff to know that this was not an IDB.

Common sense would have been for the pilot to show some leadership and try to resolve the situation before the "cops" were called.

Common sense would have been for the manager (especially assuming that it really was a UA manager and not just a supervisor) to try to resolve the situation instead of presumably ordering or allowing the GA to call the "cops."
+1 Unfortunately UA union employees (and apparently managers) are not authorized to use common sense when problems arise. That's the difference at WN and other service providers (like hotels).

Originally Posted by PilgrimsProgress View Post
Agreed that the ivory tower perspective from some of the FT community is not shared by the ordinary traveler who is unfamiliar with all the FT lingo. The dichotomy is particularly borne out with this incident.
I don't think that's quite right because many of us share the outrage knowing that any of us can be abused by airline staff - regardless of status - if they decide they don't like us and then use the right code words (e.g. "safety issue).

Instead I think it is more the "comply with authority" mentality v. the civil liberties crowd. And as one who was raised to always comply (and never arrested) it is sometimes difficult to see the other side, particularly when we all know that this incident would never have made the news if Dr. Dao had complied.

But thank goodness he didn't - as the coming reforms will certainly benefit every single traveler and even staff if they are given proper authority and discretion to resolve these problems in a non-confrontational manner. Moreover the whole balance between real safety issues (9/11) and fabricated safety issues (ordinary people thrown off flights, which happens every day, because the FAs decide to eject them) has been off for some time, and hopefully will be re-aligned. Passengers should not be ejected, and police/security/whatever should not be called to resolve contract or personality disputes.
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Old Apr 20, 17, 12:59 pm
  #6370  
 
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This thread has now tied the longest UA forum thread...

As far as I can see 6371 was the old record (taking two and one-half years ). This one did it in less than two weeks. Prior champ is here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unite...-ask-here.html

But hey, nothing to see here, this will all blow over soon....
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Old Apr 20, 17, 1:03 pm
  #6371  
 
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
As far as I can see 6371 was the old record (taking two and one-half years ). This one did it in less than two weeks. Prior champ is here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unite...-ask-here.html

But hey, nothing to see here, this will all blow over soon....
Why do I get the feeling you were just waiting for this...?
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Old Apr 20, 17, 1:34 pm
  #6372  
 
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
As far as I can see 6371 was the old record (taking two and one-half years ). This one did it in less than two weeks. Prior champ is here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unite...-ask-here.html

But hey, nothing to see here, this will all blow over soon....
I think the moderator should go through the thread and count the posts talking about how far away the post count is from the record. Those posts (including this one) should not count toward the record.
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Old Apr 20, 17, 1:35 pm
  #6373  
 
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Originally Posted by Boraxo View Post
But thank goodness he didn't - as the coming reforms will certainly benefit every single traveler and even staff if they are given proper authority and discretion to resolve these problems in a non-confrontational manner. Moreover the whole balance between real safety issues (9/11) and fabricated safety issues (ordinary people thrown off flights, which happens every day, because the FAs decide to eject them) has been off for some time, and hopefully will be re-aligned. Passengers should not be ejected, and police/security/whatever should not be called to resolve contract or personality disputes.
Key person in this incident:

Dr.Dao - Different people might have different opinions about him not complying with authority. He definitely had paid the price, and he is more likely to be compensated fairly.

Three aviation officers - They could have handled this in a more professional and humane way. But they are placed on leave now waiting for a fair ruling.

The GA: We don't know yet what happened, and maybe the GA was following everything in the SOP. So we can't really say much until we know what's in the SOP.

Oscar: There's no argument here that he said something inappropriate, and many questioned his judgement in handling this crisis. There's no doubt that he made the situation worse. Yes, he did offer a generic apology again blaming the system. His inappropriate comments has nothing to do with the system, and it's not part of SOP. The only United employee involved in this incident is Oscar. But Oscar just told us that he will not fire himself. I would forgive him if he specially apologize for accusing Dr.Dao before figuring out the whole situation. Everyone makes mistakes including me. But why can Oscar get away from this without admitting that he say something inappropriate? Not everything is a system failure. Blaming the aviation police and the system does not make him a better person. I do appreciate his willingness to change his tone in the second apology, but he just change the subject from Dr. Dao to "the system."
Be a true leader and tell us that he should setup a great example of respecting customers. Isn't that why there are so many comments in this forum? No one would think that UA would make the exact same mistake ever. But the problem is that they might make other similar mistakes if they still think the customer the last. If Oscar does not say that it is wrong to disrespect customers like what he did, then it is reasonable to doubt. If it is so hard form him to say that, but it is very hard for me to trust him. And I want to trust him and move on.
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Old Apr 20, 17, 2:01 pm
  #6374  
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
As far as I can see 6371 was the old record (taking two and one-half years ). This one did it in less than two weeks. Prior champ is here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unite...-ask-here.html

But hey, nothing to see here, this will all blow over soon....
Originally Posted by joder View Post
Why do I get the feeling you were just waiting for this...?
I've been watching since I'm the OP.

I started the most responded to thread in Flyertalk history. Well United, I don't care about the other forums.

Do I get a sticker?
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Old Apr 20, 17, 2:19 pm
  #6375  
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Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
I've seen outrage by Status flyers at the slightest reduction of their expected level of service while they tsk-tsk steerage passengers for complaining about being treated worse than cargo.
Right on. We can do hundreds of posts about how the limes on the bar cart are cut, but if a no-status flyer is downgraded, IDB'd, kicked around, etc. by United, the response is: get over it, stuff happens.

Originally Posted by DrPSB View Post
...the different views of this incident from the average flyer versus those who are invested in the loyalty program United offers is, I think, worth commenting on. And United in issuing a special apology to their higher revenue generating customers further illuminates this difference...

Who doesn't like to be told they are special, be treated with privilege, and be able to watch from a distance as the 'gate lice' and 'kettles' fight for overhead bin space while they are ensconced up front with a cold beverage in hand?
This runs so deep in United Airlines culture, it's easy to believe that an integral, intentional part of the UA elite experience is the opportunity to observe less worthy customers being mistreated.
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