Why United Airlines is Right: Don’t hate the player…

The screams from inside the cabin of UA flight 3411 haunt the newsfeeds of people around the world. The flight was overbooked. No one took United’s offer for an $800 voucher. 4 passengers were selected to be removed from the flight. 3 of the passengers left the plane. One remained and refused to leave. The Chicago Department of Aviation Police were called, and an officer dragged the man off the plane.

It’s the Small Print

One thing that I learned from working in a bank call center after the 2008 crash is that people do not read contracts. We sign contracts without reading a sentence.

When was the last time you read the terms of service for an app update? Purchasing an airline ticket is no different.

Contract of Carriage

United Airlines states in its Contract of Carriage that it reserves the right to “change or modify any of its conditions of contract with or without notice to ticketed passengers.”

Then, in Rule 5 Cancellations of Reservations, Section G, it is explained that “All of UA’s flights are subject to overbooking which could result in UA’s inability to provide previously confirmed reserved space for a given flight or for the class of service reserved.”

If we purchase a ticket from United, or from any one of the other thirty affiliated airlines that use this same contract of carriage, we must agree to these terms.

Refusal of Service

Say you’re a restaurant owner. Your restaurant is packed and you can no longer accommodate a customer. Unable to accommodate the customer, you must refuse service. The customer, disagrees with your decision and refuses to leave.

The customer is no longer a customer and this customer is now a trespasser on your property. You call the police, the law, to help you enforce the mutually agreed upon contract. End.

Key point:

It’s my business. I can refuse service to anyone I want.

This is what United Airlines did. They enacted the rules set within the Contract of Carriage, that the customer agreed to, and the customer refused to leave. That’s when the situation escalated.

And that is why the CEO was 100% on point with his statement commending his employees for doing their job. Because, bluntly, they were doing their job.

The Chicago Department of Aviation Police, in my opinion, deserves more of the blame. After all, it was not a United Airlines entity that used excessive force to remove a passenger. United employees were just standing by.

Who is at fault?

Everyone. The customer for refusing to comply with the contract that he signed with United Airlines. The customer’s refusal to leave resulted in the Chicago Department of Aviation Police using excessive force to remove the customer.

And complicit are the human beings on board who cried, “Oh my god,” as they acted as fearful sheep, and did not step in to defend their fellow passenger.

Listen, it’s easy to critique the game tape, but the truth is, the rules of the game were followed.

And as such, the situation can be summed up as follows:

Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.

What’s your take? Let me know in the comments!