Random PR Thoughts

Hey! United Airlines! Just What the Hell is Wrong With You?

The 27-month-old boy sprawled across his mother, both under one seatbelt, and the elbow of the stand-by passenger who was given the child’s fully paid seat. 


I thought I was done with United Airlines as a topic. I was wrong.

It has been more than two months since we learned of the appalling treatment of a United passenger, Dr. David Dao, who was yanked from his seat, dragged up the aisle and ejected from the airplane, losing a tooth along the way. (Just writing these words makes my blood boil all over again.)

Today brought the news about a woman traveling on United from Hawaii to Houston and on to Boston with her 27-month-old child. She had purchased two tickets, costing a total of $2000, as is required by United’s rules which state that any child more than two years old must have a ticket to fly.

Despite the rule and despite the fact that the mother had complied with that rule, on the Houston to Boston leg United’s clueless employees forced the woman to give up her child’s seat to accommodate a stand-by passenger. For three and a half hours, she had to hold her 25-pound son in her lap. Even though she pointed out the fact that she had a paid seat for her son before the plane departed, the flight crew ignored her.

The mother had to put her seatbelt around the two of them, undoubtedly a violation of FAA rules. And upon landing she was told by numbskull Boston gate personnel that she should have said something to the flight crew. They did nothing to redress the situation.

This is not simply a matter of a mother’s inconvenience. It is theft. And it is also more evidence that United’s culture is so horribly corrupt and its employees so utterly incompetent that the FAA should seriously consider grounding the airline until its operating policies are overhauled and each and every employee – including dunce CEO Oscar Munoz – is retrained and certified. In the meantime, the gate agents at both ends of the flight and the flight crew should be fired for committing and abetting theft from a passenger and violating FAA rules.

It’s hard to comprehend how United’s gate personnel and flight crew could be so pressured to collect – and the airline be so hungry for — the (it has now been confirmed) $75 they made by accommodating a standby passenger that they would steal from another passenger and once again risk the reputation of the entire airline.

Munoz’s lame gesture – he refunded the ticket and gave the mother and child flight vouchers – is like a restaurant which, having poisoned its patrons, gives them a gift certificate for a free meal. Who would ever go back to the place? But United’s near monopoly means that its victims have little choice.

The other troubling aspect of this reprehensible incident is that the mother and child are of Asian descent. She specifically mentioned recalling the debacle with Dr. Dao as she thought about what to do.

“I started remembering all those incidents with United on the news. The violence. Teeth getting knocked out. I’m Asian. I’m scared and I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t want those things to happen to me,” she told Hawaii News Now.

Are there racist undertones to United’s actions? Two Asian Americans have been targeted for unfair treatment.

My guess is probably not. United undoubtedly treats all of its passengers like pieces of shit at one point or another.

Categories: Random PR Thoughts

2 replies »

  1. Another fantastic piece, Chris. I look forward to your posts more than you know. I’m flying United tomorrow. They’ve already sent a note to say that I should be prepared for delays due to weather predictions for the northeast tomorrow…not feeling hopeful. They better not make my 13-year-old sit on my lap!

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