Thoughts about the United SMF Flight Comments
Lets review what people say SHOULD have happened:
Option 1) The UA employees don’t get on the plane to LOU, and the return flight the next day MUST be canceled. You can’t put the employees in an Uber, their contract and the rules state they aren’t on rest time until they arrive at their host airport. You can’t just change union work rules like that. They HAD to fly on that plane. Why did this happen today? I bet you there will be a good look at that, but my bet is that to have regional employees basically lose an ENTIRE day traveling and then staying in LOU instead of working isn’t a good idea, and 99 times out of 100 having the crew fly on this plane is not a problem.
Option 2) The amount should have been raised until someone took it, because 200 bucks all the way up to 1000 didn’t get anyone to take it, so SURELY someone would have gotten off the plane if it it JUST was $1200! So now takeoff slots don’t matter at all, and planes can stay at the gate while the agents need to play “Lets Make A Deal!” to deal with an oversale, which, let me remind you HAPPENS TO ALL AIRLINES.
Option 3) UA should never have oversold! Great, how would you like that to work? With MAJOR hub operations, people OFTEN have stranded segments, missed connections, as well as just wanting to use SDC and other options to change flights. In order to do this, you overbook a flight REASONABLY. According to stats that Nate Silver posted, UA INVOLed 0.4 people per 10,000 paid passengers. Jetblue INVOLed more. So did many airlines. Most were pretty close to the UA number. This is NOT just a UA problem, its the entire industry, and its actually proof that it USUALLY works! We DON’T hear stories like this often!
Option 4) They should have offered to change who they INVOLed! So this Doctors life is more important then any other person who was on that plane? It now an airlines job to decide how important people are to their lives to determine the order they are chosen? People have insinuated that UA specifically picked this guy, and they are demanding to see the algorithm?! Why would UA specifically choose a Doctor? Why wouldn’t they choose the person with the lowest fare, and the least ability to fight back?! The fact that the first two people who were INVOLed got off the plane without incident shows that this was not a way to ‘get back at some people’.
Option 5) They should have gotten another plane. You can’t just ‘create’ a landing/takeoff slot, airports don’t work like that. You need to have a scheduled plane, or file for a special operation, neither of which could be done.
The DoT has WRITTEN rules for oversales, that REQUIRE cash to be given to the person being removed. There is regulation for this activity, and there is consumer protection! EVERY time an oversale happens, it MUST be reported to the DoT.
NO ONE is saying what happened was optimal. What we ARE saying is that the ONLY reason we are talking about it is because of the activities of the police officers. Does ANYONE wish this to have happened? No. But to call for the CEO’s head for something that is regular airline practice is just plain silly.