United Forced to Re-Accommodate Passenger Mid-Flight
United Airlines feeling pressure to apologize or something after videos showing a passenger being forcibly removed from a plane mid-flight sets off public outrage.
BETWEEN CHICAGO AND LOUISVILLE —After the purchase of a rum and coke beverage and a small snack box, sources confirmed that 72-year-old Bill Henderson complained the price of the drinks and snacks on-board were “highway robbery,” adding “things were different back in my day.”
“I wouldn’t say he was belligerent or disruptive, it was more of joking banter,” said 64-year-old Sally Johnson, who was in the middle seat between Henderson and an unnamed passenger occupying the window seat. “He didn’t even wake up the other guy in our row, who was snoring pretty loud during the whole incident.”
Flight attendants who overheard the comments disagreed, and decided it was necessary to re-accommodate the 72-year-old passenger mid-flight, somewhere in the air-space between Chicago and the plane’s final destination, Louisville. “It was about half-way if I remember,” said Johnson. “I’d guess maybe around Indianapolis? Can’t be real sure.”
Although re-accommodating passenger’s mid-flight is not ideal for the flight crew since it can be quite strenuous, it is fully within the rights of United Airlines according to their spokesperson.
“Our policy is clear that United Airlines has the right to remove any person from the aircraft at any point” said the spokesperson. “Nowhere in our policy does it specify the plane has to be on the ground.”
According to rule 21 in United’s contract of carriage, United Airlines shall have the right to refuse to transport or shall have the right to remove from the aircraft at any point, any Passenger for a wide variety of reasons. Reasons including being barefoot, wearing leggings, making a phone call while taxing, being of questionable ethnicity, or any behavior that United Airlines deems unacceptable.
The spokesperson added that re-accommodation mid-flight was perfectly legal and within their rights. Also, because the passenger did not request a refund as he was being re-accommodated out an emergency exit window, the passenger would not be receiving any compensation, per federal regulation.
“Our policy states that any passenger who is removed or refused transportation in accordance with rule 21 may be eligible for a refund, upon request of course,” added the spokesperson. “As flight attendants were opening the emergency exit and re-accommodating said passenger out, the passenger did not request any refund.”
However, videos of the incident quickly went viral and many people expressed their anger at United for the mid-flight re-accommodation, with some vowing to never fly United again. In the videos, disturbed passengers are heard screaming “why are you doing this?” as the bloodied and disoriented passenger is forcefully re-accommodated.
In external statements released by United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, admitted he was upset by the negative press they were receiving from having to forcefully re-accommodate the passenger; however, in internal emails to employees, Munoz describes the passenger as “disruptive and belligerent” and praises the actions of the employees.
At this time, United Airlines is considering adding a policy that would allow them to confiscate and delete any pictures or recorded videos while aboard their fleet and partner fleets in order to avoid future incidents like this from occurring.