Like most of you, I am outraged at the video that surfaced last week of a passenger being forcefully removed from a United Airlines flight. He was removed because the airline oversold its flight and they needed to make room to transport four airline employees to a new location so that they could work the next day. Overbooking seats on flights is a common practice. The passenger was morally correct to resist having his trip delayed by a day, but he was also legally wrong. You see, when you purchase your airline ticket and board a flight you are giving up several fundamental rights.
That’s right, you give up rights many of us take for granted by accepting the small print on the airline ticket that essentially states that the airline employees have every right to make the decisions on the airplane. As a passenger, you have no right to challenge that authority.
It is fundamentally wrong but as long as you accept the ticket language you are complicit in what happened. The incident has been trending on social media. Unfortunately, that is doing nothing to change the fundamental problem of giving up your rights.
Let your wallet lead to change.
There are companies I will not do business with. I just added United Airlines to that list. My wallet may not be large enough to force United Airlines to make a change but ultimately, I spend my money on companies that I feel have a similar ethic to me.
Make no mistake, United Airlines is leveraging its public relations systems and has made and will continue to make public pronouncements justifying their actions and sometimes, issuing mea culpas. All crisis management that money can buy looks to control the image by first misdirecting the issue and if the public perception metrics show that a mea culpa will work then they will select employees to fall on their swords for the good of the bottom line.
But it means nothing. It is just a process to control the damage.
My wallet isn’t large enough to force change but collectively our wallets are.
If you truly feel outraged by the incident and want the airlines to make changes then encourage everyone you know to not do business with United Airlines.
But, but I must be somewhere and United Airlines is the only way to get there. You’ll have to decide if being somewhere is reason enough to ignore what transpired. But, but United Airlines offers the cheapest fare to get me where I need to be.
If the trending about the incident continues to be negative for United Airlines you can expect it to offer travel deals until the incident is forgotten. It is the third-largest airline in the world, after all.
But you need to understand that by buying low fares you are condoning what happened to the passenger that was forcefully removed.
If you are truly outraged then the only way to force the airlines to make changes is to stop paying United Airlines any of your money until it goes bankrupt.
Because forcing the airline into bankruptcy is the only way most will take notice.
Look closely at the narrative of overbooking flights. It is about money.
The airline has admitted that it made a list of passengers it forced off the flight based on various criteria to include how much they paid for their ticket and whether they are frequent flyers, or not. So, if you are a First-Class passenger or a frequent flyer it is unlikely you would be forced off the plane to make room for airlines workers to get where they need to be.
But everyone else is fair game.
In other words, you need to equalize the playing field by forcing United Airlines into bankruptcy.
Only then, will the message be clear to the airlines that everyone should be treated the same and with dignity.
Let your wallet express your outrage!