UA 3411: The Elephant in the Room

Image Courtesy: www.MapleandMarigold.com

A few days ago a man was dragged through the hallways of an airplane. His high-pitched cries, “I just want to go home,” are still echoing in my head.

Full details of the entire sequence of events that took place on board flight UA 3411 available here.

Here’s the gist: 4 UA staff had to be accommodated at the last minute on a flight that was already full with paying passengers. The United flight crew asked passengers if they would like to volunteer to be offloaded in exchange for vouchers for future travel. No hands were raised. That’s when a computer algorithm was run and 4 passengers were “volunteered” to free up their seats. Three people finally agreed. The fourth declined.

Instead of moving down the list the UA crew decided to call in the big guns — aviation police, and the police did what they do best. They used brute force to haul a paying passenger down the hallways of the airplane.

The world is in uproar.

What has my blood boiling though are the “voices of reason” that have popped up to say that the UA staff were following the law. So why is there an international outcry?

Let’s address these “voices of reason” one by one:

The passenger was selected randomly. I have been randomly selected a number of times. I have never been able to accept the airline’s offer of offloading. And I don’t remember being dragged through an airplane bumping along seats as if I were a duffle bag. Even with my awful memory I think I would remember that.

The doctor’s past seems sketchy — he deserved it. Did the UA staff do a background check as they were waiting for the computer to “randomly select” their candidates? There is no evidence that they did. If it did not factor into the events as they transpired, it does not matter. This victim shaming and blaming has to STOP!

It was an automatic selection, and computers can’t be racist. There’s no disputing that. But human beings are flawed as we know. The decision to not move down the list and pick someone else even though the passenger has clearly said that he has commitments to keep the following day, that smacks of laziness at best……and racism at worst.

The police asked him to do something. Why didn’t he just do it. Admittedly Dr Dao’s reaction wasn’t as rational as it could have been. But he thought he had done everything right. He needed to get to Louisville, KY and he bought a ticket. He thought he had rights. After being unjustly treated and manhandled, with a bleeding face he runs down the airplane because as he says, “I just want to go home.”

There is no justification for this situation to devolve into an assault.

The plane was full. The airline needed to accommodate it’s late-arriving staff. The UA 3411 staff chose what they considered would be the easiest course of action: offload paying passengers. Dr Dao did not want to be offloaded. Instead of looking for alternatives, United Airlines staff decided to exercise the fullest extent of the law.

After all — how dare this old Asian man say NO!

The article was originally published on www.MapleandMarigold.com