My Take

United discovers novel new way to boost airline profits

Take passengers’ money then throw them off the plane without compensation: this could be the key making more money

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 April, 2017, 1:42am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 April, 2017, 1:42am

It’s not for nothing that economy is often called cattle class. As United Airlines has shown, it’s perfectly okay to knock out and drag a paying passenger, who simply demanded the service he had already paid for, off a plane to make way for its own travelling staff.

So, what’s next, United? Cattle prods on passengers?

Six memes about United Airlines incident that have gone viral on Twitter

Not only did United CEO Oscar Munoz initially refused to apologise to the injured passenger, Dr David Dao, he slandered him by claiming in an internal email that the 69-year-old physician was “disruptive and belligerent”. The only ones who were seen being “disruptive and belligerent” were the airline staff and police called to remove him. It looks like a simple case of assault by police and aiding and abetting by the flight crew. But hey, it’s America, and airlines and state security can do anything to you on a plane or in an airport.

It was only after the backlash against the airline went global that Munoz offered a more full-throated apology, which essentially promised not to rough up innocent passengers in future.

If you can believe it, Munoz actually praised his airline crew: “I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond”. He is right. The incident should have a salutary effect on future passengers.

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Next time, staff only have to single out intimidated passengers for “voluntary” removal on deliberately overbooked flights to throw them off. They won’t even have to offer cash compensation or hotel stays from now on.

Think of the amount of money United will be making. “Above and beyond” indeed! It could be a pioneering business model for other airlines in the US to emulate, too. United says the selection of passengers for removal is based on objective criteria: if you travel frequently with them or pay for more expensive tickets and services, you are unlikely to be forcibly removed.

United passenger David Dao says ‘everything’ is injured

Why stop there? Introduce a new safety fee, say US$50 -US$100, to make sure you won’t be beaten up and dragged off a flight unconscious.

Oh, just one thing. Make sure the passengers being targeted are not health care professionals. It’s a criminal offence to interfere with the work of medics in virtually all the states in America. Dr Dao had clearly identified his profession and said he had to fly back to see patients.