When Two Wrongs Make For A Great Bar Argument

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The doctor yanked off the United flight is THE perfect talk show topic. Perfect. Damn shame I am on vacation and don’t have my show to use as the “argument octacon” on this one. Plenty of others have, and yes, I’m aware: it has nothing to do with sports.

So let me just exercise a few thought muscles here, for the record.

For starters, I quickly found out that Twitter is the absolute WORST place to try to litigate this case in the court of public opinion. No matter how many clarifying, follow-up, depth providing tweets I gave, there was a steady stream of the usual angry Twitizens who not only were not swayed, but did a masterful job of not even getting my point.

Shame on me. I should know better.

That said, it still frustrates me how so many people are apparently incapable of understanding that somebody can have an opinion on something that DOES NOT TAKE A SIDE. Too many people are so stuck in a “binary” mode, that you are either FOR or AGAINST somebody in a particular news event.

The mere fact that I said United had the legal “right” to remove the passenger, does not equal my “support” for their handling of the case. In fact, United is run by idiots. If I were on their board of directors, I’d say: “Let’s just fire everybody in upper management and start over.”

Meanwhile, the “good doctor” who was merely trying to heroically make it home to Louisville in time to see patients, is an adult who is responsible for his own actions. Assuming this was not the FIRST flight he has ever taken, and given his intelligence level is sufficient to be a doctor, then he surely must have some passing understanding of airline procedures on bumps and the dreaded fine print of “Rules of Carriage.”

And even if he didn’t know all of that – doubtful – then once a trio of airport police showed up at his seat, he should have gotten the clue that he had a choice: leave the plane feet first, or face first. Again: his choice.

He chose poorly. And so did United. So if you are following me here… THEY ARE BOTH WRONG!

You would think there’s a whole section of their ops manual titled: “When A Passenger Refuses to Leave the Plane in An Age of Viral Videos.” Oh well. Live and learn. Maybe next edition.

Now back to the “good doctor.” Everybody knows damn well, that had this passenger been a tattooed muscle head who said he had to get home to “get his lift in” there wouldn’t be nearly the amount of outrage/sympathy. In fact, many might have declared him an asshole.

Nobody has an absolute “right” to be on, or fly on an airplane. The captain is the captain, and what he and the airline says, goes. So when the goons show up to say: “We’re done asking politely….” then I really don’t give a shit what happens to you. Go limp, get tazered, yell and scream… I don’t fucking care.

You aren’t the only one who has to be somewhere.

This guy isn’t the first one to be thrown/dragged off a plane. He’s just a “doctor” who “wasn’t doing anything wrong.” Until he refused to leave. At that moment, he was doing everything wrong. People have been getting kicked off planes for years now. For making vague threats, harassing those they disagree with politically, and all other sorts of mild to severe disturbances.

Those who say a “customer” should “never” be treated like that, are declaring a blanket policy that would never withstand the rigors of everyday assholes who get on planes and act like their last name is painted on the tail. “Customers” come in all shapes, sizes, and demeanors. They are drunks, creeps, weirdos and sometimes severe mental patients.

Sometimes, they desperately need to be kicked off planes. Even face first, if they choose.

It doesn’t sound like this clown was worth the trouble. He was a small fish. Not like somebody who gets up and shits on the beverage cart, or masturbates to his seatmate under an airline blanket. And that’s where United royally screwed up.

Obviously United doesn’t understand the concept of a pyrrhic victory. Merely bumping up their compensation offer to get one more person to bite, or pleading that one gentleman is refusing to be bumped and thus NOBODY is getting airborne until SOMEBODY “takes one for the team” would have been much less costly options.

If they had done that, everybody else on that plane would have thrown the “good doctor” off themselves.

Time to unleash the lawyers. This is their dead body to feast on now.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Not sure if this is true or correct, but if it is maybe it will change your mind about United Airlines. I also really enjoy your segment on the Bob and Brian show. Have a good day.

    “Written by a lawyer

    United is in a heap of trouble.

    From Reddit:

    Lawyer here. This myth that passengers don’t have rights needs to go away, ASAP. You are dead wrong when saying that United legally kicked him off the plane.

    First of all, it’s airline spin to call this an overbooking. The statutory provision granting them the ability to deny boarding is about “OVERSALES”, specifically defines as booking more reserved confirmed seats than there are available. This is not what happened. They did not overbook the flight; they had a fully booked flight, and not only did everyone already have a reserved confirmed seat, they were all sitting in them. The law allowing them to denying boarding in the event of an oversale does not apply.

    Even if it did apply, the law is unambiguously clear that airlines have to give preference to everyone with reserved confirmed seats when choosing to involuntarily deny boarding. They have to always choose the solution that will affect the least amount of reserved confirmed seats. This rule is straightforward, and United makes very clear in their own contract of carriage that employees of their own or of other carriers may be denied boarding without compensation because they do not have reserved confirmed seats. On its face, it’s clear that what they did was illegal– they gave preference to their employees over people who had reserved confirmed seats, in violation of 14 CFR 250.2a.

    Furthermore, even if you try and twist this into a legal application of 250.2a and say that United had the right to deny him boarding in the event of an overbooking; they did NOT have the right to kick him off the plane. Their contract of carriage highlights there is a complete difference in rights after you’ve boarded and sat on the plane, and Rule 21 goes over the specific scenarios where you could get kicked off. NONE of them apply here. He did absolutely nothing wrong and shouldn’t have been targeted. He’s going to leave with a hefty settlement after this fiasco.

  2. I agree with you, but United’s “wrong” is much more egregious. In addition, they are idiots to think sending “cops” to remove some one from the plane after they’ve already been seated, would not be be seen as heavy-handed.

    I understand why airlines overbook, and there is a simple solution-keep raising the bribe to get off until you have takers. We all have a price. What NOT to do is drag someone off a plane using security, bloodying their face and making your company look like Nazis.

  3. Totally agree with you. Unfortunately, the centrist part of the internet is about as remarkable as…Atlanta, GA.

  4. The largest problem with this whole story/narrative Cazbe, is the fact the MOST people believe that there has to be “good” and “evil” in every outcome. Not many can rationalize that maybe, just maybe; both parties in the story are assholes. I am 100% in agreement with you on this one.

    As an aside, note to United: In the future, have your cost analysis department run the numbers on what it would have cost to hire a “limo” (bus, driver, etc.) to get your precious employees the 6-7 hours to Louisville. I bet it is a LOT cheaper than even offering $800 plus lodging to passengers.

  5. Didn’t United suspend the security guard involved right away? No need to kick management.

    Agreed: the better option seems to be to keep raising the offer to get someone to relent, and keep the plane at the gate until it happens.

    I have no patience for people who expect rules/laws to be enforced, except for when it produces bad video.

  6. Can United prove that the passengers they picked to kick off the plane were truly randomly chosen?

    Your argument that this passenger is also at fault equate him to a drunk or an asshole who is behaving badly right from the start. But that’s not the case, is it? Airline may have right to refuse service to anyone, but they should have made that decision before the tickets were used and passengers were seated.

    Let me paint you a picture, are you telling me that if you went into a bar, sat down, ordered a drink, paid for the drink in advance, but before you can actually take a sip, the bartender says to you “Sorry sir, you need to leave. There is a waiter who needs to sit down at this seat and drink this beer.” Even if they offer to give you back your money plus some gift certificate, you are telling me that you’ll shut up and take it??

    If you say yes, that’s not the Czabe I know.

    • Apples & Oranges.
      When you purchase an airline ticket, you are entering in to a contract with the airline that clearly states that they can remove you, bump you, force you to leave (whatever the wording is on the back of the ticket) whenever they chose.
      There’s no such agreement made when you walk in to a bar.
      Also, it’s not a federal offense to interfere with a bartender and his duties, like it is on an aircraft.

      • I was asking Czabe whether he’d be upset if he was on the receiving end of that situation. What if an obese person gets on the plane and the company decides that the obese person is taking up too much space and costing too much fuel to lift the airplane? By law, they are allowed to kick those three people off the plane, right?

        Laws change. Laws are usually changed when enough people are upset enough to vote. At the moment, the law protects the airlines. If an airline could remove a passenger for whatever reasons they see fit, why not remove over-weight folks who are taking up a seat and a half? Why not remove someone who has bad body odor?

        Finally, just become something is legal doesn’t make it right. What United did may be legal, but I don’t think it was right.

        • You can argue what you feel is “right” all day long, the bottom line is you agreed to it. Certain airlines already charge obese people more or will make them pay for two tickets, so that example is invalid. To your first comment, of course people would be upset by this, but that’s not the question. The question is would you take it that far, or would you realize you were screwed and go peacefully. I wouldn’t want to get off the plane, but when 3 armed guards are demanding I leave, I’m not going to argue with them either. The “Good Doctor”‘s choice to have a fit is where this went sideways.

          • So you have absolutely no problem with how United handled this? Why would the obese example be invalid? Because in the world we live in, the airline basically has absolute power when it comes who which paid customer they actually want to serve. What’s to stop them from picking which paying customer they want to let on the plane? The passenger doesn’t have to actually have violated any rules.

            I agree that that is the reality. My point is that it should change. United failed to plan their staffing level correctly and needed 4 extra seats to get 4 employee from one place to another. This was an error on the part of United to begin with. The rule should be changed so that under such circumstance, paid customers would not be force-ably removed from the plane for an airline error.

            Finally, not sure why you are using “Good doctor.” You do realize that whatever “report” that suggested that this passenger sold drugs illegally were wrong, right? The reporter dug up the past of someone else and mistakenly attributed to this particular passenger.

          • Never said I had no problem with the way the system works, what I said was this is the system and the system doesn’t care if you like it or not. You agreed to the fine print on the ticket when you purchased it, this was on the ticket, so you agreed to it. You don’t have to like it, it doesn’t have to be “right” in your eyes, if you want to fly United these are the rules. If you don’t like them, fly Southwest or drive. Period.

            The obese example is invalid, because AGAIN, its ON THE TICKET. They made that rule, you agreed to it. Period. You don’t have to like it, but you agreed to it.

            Secondly, even if you fell the rules should change, the rules are not going to change by arguing with the security guys demanding you get off the plane. This is no different than arguing this area is a speed trap with a cop that just pulled you over for speeding. Even if you don’t feel its right, you aren’t going to change the rules right there on the side of the road, and if you piss him off enough you are going to end up arrested or tazed. Same here, the begged, pleaded, and finally got sick of his crap and removed him. You had to know that as soon as the armed security guards got on the plane, that one way or the other this plane ain’t leaving the ground with your ass in that seat. There are plenty of channels to argue this, but arguing it with security on a plane waiting for you to leave is not that place. He chose to escalate it and challenge them, they called his bluff.

            Bottom line, you are arguing what “should be”, I’m arguing “what is”. If you want to make an effort to change it, fine. But try to change it on a plane with security, and I’ll have no sympathy for you either.

          • What’s the point of arguing what is? I acknowledged the law is what it is. Airlines have the legal right to remove passengers. United was dumb to take things so far with a passenger in a situation that started out as an United Airline’s own error. Yes, the current rule says that even if United screwed up, they can still remove passengers just to cover their own screw up. I accept that.

            I happen to feel that the rules should be tweaked. I’m not talking about security threats or belligerent passenger who were always belligerent. I’m talking about lawful passengers having to pay the price because of the airline’s own scheduling fault. You are okay with the Rules of Carriage as it is written, good for you. I’m not okay with it but I also understand it will probably not change even though I already wrote my congressman.

            Things change because people don’t accept what is and ask what it should be. Like I said, when enough people get pissed off, things will change. After last year’s election, never say never.

    • The problem with your scenario is that the drink from the bartender didn’t come with a list of small print regulations that you had to agree to before you could buy the drink. If, in that “user agreement” you agreed to give up your seat whenever the bar decided it was necessary, then yes, you need to go. I’m sorry, I know nobody reads it, but somewhere on that airline ticket or the website you bought it from, you had to agree to their terms. These are their terms. If you don’t agree with them, don’t buy the ticket or don’t fly.

      Also, the guy made the choice to have a fit about it, and made the choice to push it to the point of being physically removed instead of complying. Whether you or he agrees with their decision, when he’s sitting there with 3 armed guards surrounding him demanding he leave, he needs to realize this battle has been already lost, and go. At that point you are not talking them out of it, and protesting is only making it worse. There is a time and place to debate and negotiate this, and on a plane waiting to take off is not that place.

  7. United was wrong on several levels prior to the removal of our favorite doctor. Yes United could remove him – but are required to give him a written copy of the regulations prior to his involuntary removal. They also are required to give him a check for 1,350 at the time of removal.

    Neither of these things happened.

    There is also an open question of can United remove a passenger once he is seated. Involuntary bumping a passenger is the airlines right to deny boarding… he had boarded. If you know a tastefully named lawyer willing to talk with you – he could tell you these small distinctions matter a great deal.

    Hope your are enjoying your vacation.

  8. This might be a dumb question, but on a scale of 1 to 10, how excited is Eddie Lacy that United now features Chinese takeout?

  9. We can all agree that current state is: Airlines are making rules and if you don’t like it, too bad, go elsewhere, with a few choices. The issue is: Airlines aren’t free market. They are a Monopoly industry, regulated by our government. If we want them to change, we can make that happen. The airlines are making record profit; compensating customers a little more for dealing with poor management won’t bankrupt them (again).
    I’m not saying airlines shouldn’t be able to bump people, or that there’s a fundamental problem removing people via force. After all, the skies SHOULD be Totalitarian rule once you’re up in the sky. Do what you’re told, or people can die.

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