United Airlines, a carrot, and a stick

By now you’ve almost certainly seen the movies showing a United Airlines passenger being forcibly removed from a flight last night. I have, too. And the number of different ways everyone screwed up is hard to fathom.

United had a crew out of position and needed to get those employees to Louisville. The only way to get them there in time was on a flight that was already full. With the choice of screwing hundreds of passengers in the following hours or just a handful on the one flight the company chose to put the employees on board; they are flagged as “must-ride” in the system and it means exactly that. That is a smart choice and one that every airline will make time and again. But making that move comes with certain challenges, namely finding four other passengers willing to trade their seat for some compensation.

Even at $800 in comp (plus presumably the overnight hotel, meals, etc.) United failed to find the four it needed. The first two IDB candidates left quietly enough. The doctor did not and authorities were called. The resulting removal was not pretty, to say the least. Could United have gone higher in compensation offer? Absolutely? If it has strict policies that prevent such then those should be revisited. Especially when it is a case of must-ride employees and not a more common oversell tied to maximizing yields.

When a flight goes into an oversell situation generally the agents try to manage it before boarding starts. I’ve had a few cases where a gate agent solicits volunteers from already boarded passengers but those are rare. Maybe the must-ride crew showed up after boarding started but getting passengers to leave a plane after they’ve boarded is hard. Yes, it is still “denied boarding” in airline parlance but that doesn’t play so well in the real world. And at this point the guy was in a denied boarding scenario. It was not a voluntary one, but it is still denied boarding. He was seated and ready to fly but no longer had a valid ticket for such. It sucks, but his obligation at that point per the ticket he purchased was to stand up and walk off the plane.

Once the police are called (they didn’t just show up on their own; their presence was a direct result of United’s actions) there is not a ton United can do to control the way in which the passenger is removed. And, in my experience, the presence of officers usually persuades even the most reluctant. That didn’t happen here. The escalation of the situation by the officers at that point is the sort of thing PR nightmares are made of, and United is in the midst of one right now. The officer was reportedly placed on leave but that’s not so helpful to the guy who was dragged off the plane.

Up to this point just about everything that could go wrong did. And yet, just a few hours later, it was about to get much, much worse.

United Airlines Responds

The initial replies on Twitter were tepid at best. United was not ready to handle the onslaught and deferred to authorities. Later on Monday the CEO got involved. I’ve met Oscar and heard him speak at multiple events. I would be very, very surprised to learn that the statement issued in his name on Monday originated from him in that tone and style. It simply doesn’t match what I’ve seen in the past.

Most significantly, Munoz falls short on taking responsibility for the mess. The statement uses industry terms (“re-accommodate” is the worst offender here) rather than plain language and is a spectacular display of the passive voice. There is no ownership of the incident or even really mention of the specific incident itself. I have no doubt that much of the message is limited based on potential legal issues associated with the incident, but failing to own the problem means it will continue to spiral out of control.

There’s also the part where it took hours for United to be ready to respond. That it is possible for an airline (or any company) to have a incident where the police are involved and not have CorpComm alerted relatively quickly to be crafting a response and getting out ahead of the issue is somewhere between bad business and incompetence. Hoping that no one will notice is no longer an option when nearly everyone has a video camera and broadcast system in their pocket. Playing defense in these situations is always bad.

The worst part

So, pretty much everyone screwed up along the way here. That all sucks. But the worst part is that I expect very little to change.

Maybe United will allow more leeway in comp offers at the gate. Maybe some passengers will not fly on United for some period of time but when fares are $5 cheaper or the schedule is 10 minutes better they’ll likely be back. Besides, you were much less likely to face an IDB scenario last week than a full operational meltdown cancelling thousands of flights over several days last week thanks to some thunderstorms.

Carrot or Stick

Every airline has a carrot and a stick to work with when it comes to these situations. Usually the carrot works well enough that the stick is not necessary. And, quite frankly, when the carrot isn’t working then get a bigger carrot. Because no one wins when the stick comes out.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. In the end the passenger that was dragged off was allowed to reboard the flight and continue onto SDF.

    This is what is making my head spin how this whole gigantic mess turned out to be “for nothing”.

    1. No he wasn’t – he was the transported to a hospital for treatment of his injuries according to media reports quoting law enforcement

  2. I’m pretty sure the “carrot size” for volunteers can go up to the maximum compensation owned to a IDB. Unfortunately with most (if not all?) airlines the decision margin for local airline staff is rather small.

    1. “By the computer” which I take to mean that UA followed its published protocol for such. Airlines are required to have a policy and to follow it. I do not know UA’s but I believe that if the gate agent let the computer manage it that it was followed correctly.

  3. Seth, the Chicago Police Department denied that those men who dragged the passenger off the aircraft were NOT police officers, at least according to the Chicago Tribune.

    1. You’ve got a double negative here. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.

      1. What’s the double negative? Concerning the men who dragged the doctor, the Chicago police denied the accusation that they were not police officers.

  4. Thank you Seth for commenting on this incident. I believe you are correct in stating this is a much bigger story than people and United realize but I also believe that it will get much bigger and worse for United. I believe that, in part, “this could have been me” feeling is is driving a lot of people’s disgust and horror at what happened. What if I was on my way to a wedding that was tomorrow, or to the Hospital where a loved-one was seriously ill, or on my way to a serious job interview, would I too refuse to give up my seat and, if so, would I too be beaten, bloodied and dragged off the plane? United is a particularly tone-deaf company that tends to treat its customers with a particular intense disregard and carelessness that borders on the sadistic. So the fact that United is in the middle of this “sh#*-storm” probably bothers fewer people than would otherwise and they kinda deserve all that they get. As for “nothing will probably happen,” you may be right but I have a feeling you may be wrong. Legally, the victim here may not have a leg to stand on, but he still has a legal right to sue and if this were to ever get before a jury, the feeling that they too could have been a victim, would probably compel them to award big damages. If United is that stupid to let it get that far, they deserve all the bad that would come to them, but if they are half as stupid, then a big settlement with the passenger would be a very wise option.

    1. Overbooking happens a lot. And 99.999999% of the time (probably higher, really) it is managed without injury to anyone involved or the police being called. This incident was exceptional is so many ways.

  5. Yes, as unfair as it sounds, airlines have a right to bump passengers, but I disagree about absolving United for the behavior of these cops. It is because of United’s intransigence that the situation escalated.

    As for saying that the statement doesn’t sound like something Munoz would say, so what? With such a terrible situation that had been unfolding for several hours already, he’s going to defer to CorpComm to be his mouthpiece? Totally his fault.

    Bumping a passenger involuntarily is one thing, doing so with physical force is another matter. This is but the latest example of United disrespecting its customers.

    I decided a few years ago that I would not fly, for pleasure or business, to places where United is the only game in town for direct flights.

    Every story I’ve read about United since I stopped flying that airline makes I’m glad I ditched them.

    1. Jake Garbelotti yes but if you must be somewhere and have exigent circumstances your response is likely going to be similar… No, I’m on the plane and I’m not getting off. That’s not right.

  6. Well articulated post Seth Miller. The cost that they will burden from this is far higher than any comp that could have been offered at the gate.

  7. I appreciate your reasoned description of the events. One thing that really bothers me is that whatever law enforcement agency is called to help on a plane like this always and only ever seems to side with the airline. I’m getting tired of airlines playing victim all too often, especially in cases like this, that the airline caused its own victim status.

    1. Unfortunately in this case if the passenger no longer has a valid ticket for the flight, even if because of an IDB scenario, then there’s really no other side the officers can take. It is a shitty situation but the cops cannot go back out to the gate and tell United to reinstate the ticket.

      1. Ok I checked with friends, who work for United. This man’s ticket was not canceled. His boarding pass was canceled, when the seat was reassigned to one of those crew members. Canceling and refunding an airline ticket is not a click, click, 1, 2, 3, done thing. The process is quite involved. I can say that because I was a travel agent for almost 30 years. I venture to say that if United/Republic canceled his ticket they are in even more trouble. Because United/Republic would then be attempting to cancel a contract, after the fact.

  8. This incident should really be a rallying cry for changing the laws/rules as to how much power the airlines have.

    This was a contract dispute between a corporation and a customer, it was not a safety issue.

    Lots of bloggers argue that by law he had to follow the crew’s instructions….but the laws can and SHOULD change.

    Remember when it was completely legal for the airlines to keep passengers locked up in their planes sitting on the ground for 5, 6,7, 8, even 9 or MORE hours and the passengers had NO rights and NO recourse?! There would be outrage and the airlines promised they would stop doing it…but then it would happen again…and more promises again…until FINALLY the laws were changed!

  9. Why isn’t anyone criticizing the guy who refused to deplane? Good people don’t cause trouble. He did twice. If you don’t agree to a company policy, don’t give them your business.

    1. “Good people don’t cause trouble?” This attitude is how you get authoritarian crap like this happening in the first place. Tell it to the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto, or to Rosa Parks, or Martin Luther King, etc. This was a man passively resisting an injustice. He wasn’t causing trouble; he was refusing to give in when the other party imposed trouble unjustly upon him. (Now, I am not saying he was a hero at the level of the exemplars I mentioned. I am just pointing out that his behavior was along the lines of theirs, and that your statement is scary.)

      1. Suggesting that this is an injustice at that level is preposterous. Even hinting that it is a Civil Rights issue is ridiculous.

  10. Surprised you haven’t pointed out since United copies Deltas actions why not follow them in the denied boarding offers? Delta will go $1000 or more to make sure this type of situation doesn’t happen. Absolutely right they should have offered a bigger carrot but United routinely lowballs on this and since it’s United Express even slower to do it. Also have to add even though this was a United Express flight – its United’s corporate culture passed down thru ranks.

    1. DL has a significantly higher VDB rate but lower IDB rate than UA. Alas, this one will be charged to Republic, not United, and the DOT hasn’t changed the reporting requirements to properly account for regionals yet.

  11. Thanks for the sober explanation, Seth.

    It seems to me the police had no training on how to safely remove a an unwilling passenger.

    1. I don’t think it would differ. When you have “must ride” pax you put them on the plane going where they need to go. That’s not a negotiable situation. And if the plane is full then someone is getting bumped.

    2. Kareen Delice-Kircher yes but shit happens and when you are the last to check in (if that’s the policy) the airline should apologize and take you off the plane… I think the IDB payout is a check of up to $1,300?

    3. Yes – 4x the paid fare (not sure full r/t fare or fare component for a given sector) up to $1350 I believe. So can be considerably less – potentially less than the $800 they were offering to volunteers.

    4. Yes, it’s up to $1300. However, United always seems to overbook its flights more than other carriers who also have that practice. It’s not that the guy was the last to check in. It’s also that he’s a doctor and had patients to see. Regardless of his occupation, they could have bumped up the offer in order to get someone else to take the offer.

  12. Sorry Seth but I have to disagree with the tone of your piece.
    You seem to imply that the passenger was the author of his own misfortune by not getting off the flight., By saying this in the way that you did, some folk would be inclined to blame the passenger

    This issue did not just materialize out of the blue to United management, the issue should have been dealt with prior to boarding and having a limit on IDB compensation is just plain dumb, especially in the day & age when airlines routinely overbook seats and hide behind the fact that some passengers do not turn up. This is not good enough because when everyone turns up, then the airlines can find themselves in a storm of their own making. Clearly the compensation offered was not good enough, everyone has a price and if people were offered more, I am sure the issue would not have happened

    I also fail to understand why the only crew that could get to Louisville was from Chicago, its not as if United is a small carrier with just one base

    I sincerely hope, that United is hauled over the coals by someone in Government and penalised for their total disregard for their customers

    On another note, it would appear that the security guys who dragged and injured the passenger off the aircraft may not be police officers and just security guys. I believe they could, and possibly should, be open to being charged with assault causing injury

    The bottom line here is, United made a dogs dinner of dealing with this issue .. and its not the first time either that they have handled customer issues really bad.

    1. @Michael

      Bingo, finally someone sees this the way it is. Since I work for an airline, I’m guessing the 4 crew members were needed to fly that plane back to ORD, the next morning. That is the reason they needed to be on this flight as it would give them the federally mandated rest period before working the next morning. This is where no one has commented that Republic Airlines screwed up. You see those employees needing to be on that flight was known for probably at least a week. This didn’t happen April 1st, it was April 9th. So, when the gate agents started working this flight., they knew they had to get 4 people off this flight. The whole boarding process was done wrong. Before boarding began, the 4 computer selected passengers should have been called up and told they were not flying on this flight. Once the passenger is sitting in the seat, it is too late too play IDB. Of course, the compensation needed to be increased. Hello, the airline is now in the position of begging. Calling airport security (or who ever they were) and dragging people off the plane, shows how woefully unprepared Republic Airlines was. This was handled entirely wrong by Republic Airlines. United’s response is typical. Again, totally unprepared. United is a company with a CEO who is lost, severely unprepared to do his job, and all of United’s employees act the same way.

      My company has this policy, behave as if you are being videoed, ALL the time. Cameras are everywhere do not do anything to a customer or their property that you will regret later. And my company still has people do things that are totally against policy, if not illegal. If video exists showing malfeasance, that employee will be gone. United needs to start acting like they really want to be in the airline business. Because, it will be long time for this to go away.

    2. The passenger shares in the culpability. He is not alone, nor is the airline.

      As for getting a different crew from elsewhere, maybe that was possible and maybe not. Crew scheduling is a spectacularly complex operation for an airline this large. The airline needs to find spare bodies qualified to work on the aircraft in question and a way to get them to the airport to do so. My guess is that with limited options available at the various hubs that Republic keeps crew staffed the Chicago four were the right people to move into position.

      1. Question about Republic vs. United. Presumably, the gate agent is the one who used the computer to start picking people. Is the gate agent Republic staff or UA staff? Although bad on Republic for being late in the game with notifying the gate that they need must ride space on the flight.

        Also, it’s starting to come up that this was a “refusal to transport” situation rather than IDB, since the passenger had already boarded. A previous commenter mentioned this very thing, also. How does that change your view, based on the fact that refusal to transport is defined differently from IDB in the CoC?

        1. My understanding is that the GA involved is mainline UA, not Republic. I’m not 100% certain that’s true but pretty darn close. Same computer system/rules either way, though, AFAIK.

          I still believe it is IDB and not Refusal to Transport. I might be wrong, but that’s my take.

      2. United mainline scheduling is totally separate from Republic Airline. Not that scheduling is any easier being separate, because the total number of employees is a small fraction of United. But United’s name is on the flight and the airplane. so they do deserve the blame.

        But someone on the Republic side screwed up and did not list this crew. My understanding is that the crew that had to ride, just showed up at the gate. That is what started the whole fiasco. Secondly, the gate agent was not giving alternative flights on other airlines, consequently the passengers being removed were not traveling until the next day. Republic screwed that up as well, because they won’t assign tickets to another carrier. They offered poor options and no one wanted to take them. I feel a bit sorry that Republic Airline put all this on the gate agents.

        Don’t be blaming all this brou haha on the passenger. It started with Republic Airline. they were the operator of this flight. The passengers just were caught up in this mess. I mean there were 3 other affected individuals.

  13. If he had just left the plane like he was supposed to none of this would have happened. I’m interested in what happened before the camera started rolling. What as the other option Mexican stand off?

    1. I agree 98% of the time, but there are a some circumstances where that “Has” is absolutely necessary and the airline (agent) should factor that in when doing IDB if the passenger comes forward with a compelling reason.

  14. At the end of the day the guy was not IDB and he flew the flight as originally planned. Your thoughts on that particularly after all of this string of events?

    1. Turns out he did not fly he was transported to the hospital for treatment. he just somehow slipped back on.

      1. Perhaps they let him back on to retrieve his belongings? Can’t think of another reasonable explanation for them letting a guy they forcibly removed back on the aircraft.

        1. My read, though unverified, is that he ran back down the jetway after being removed to the gate area and was subsequently removed again. But, again, I’m not certain of that.

  15. Doctor eh? I wonder what his attitude would be if I refused to vacate my room in a full ER to make way for an allegedly worse-off patient?

  16. This article is FAKE NEWS! Trying to put lipstick on this pig and do a shuck and jive con job of come on peeps try an understand it’s not our fault. BS #boycotUA

    1. UA is in Damage Control, the author is a self professed aviation enthusiast, I have no doubt that UA has reached out to many of these enthusiast to help spin the storyline. Story has way too many relevant talking points to come off as anything but insider info for spin control. Fortunately not working as UA stocks just collapsed.

    2. United did not contact me at all about this. Nor did I contact United, though I certainly have the means to do so.

      No surprise that UAL is down in trading this morning, even more than other airlines (most of which are also down). That sort of thing matters if you’re a day-trader far more than for long-term investors.

      Sorry that I’m too informed and accurate to fit the “OMG UNITED IS AWFUL” storyline you want to see.

    3. There’s informed and biased; informed and unbiased; and then there’s ignorance both biased and unbiased. Seth, is unbelievably informed and if he is biased, it’s unintentional and I don’t notice any here and regardless, it doesn’t take away from his incredibly informed knowledge of the rules and culture. It seems there are many people who have a partial understanding or complete ignorance of the rules and the culture and the reasons why things are done the way they are done are passing judgments…this means we are talking about MORALITY or PR or just everyone enjoying watching the spectacle of it all.

      But more specifically to your point of him being an “aviation enthusiast” and that makes him biased…I guess that is possible, but what it does do is make him incredibly experienced and has a wealth of data and a large sample to give you statistically valid answers that are probably more correct than incorrect where his interpretation of the situation holds vastly more weight than the average joe that flies maybe 2-4 times a year, heck even a mild business traveler that flies 10-12 times a year.

    4. If you followed the author you’d know that he isn’t easily influenced by others and does his due diligence in collecting facts and getting it to his readers, so I think it’s rather naive of you to assume he has alternative motives other than to help readers understand what happened.

  17. Are people actually saying that if this guy refused to get off the plane they should have just gone to the computer any involuntarily chosen somebody else? That would have caused the much bigger problem! Also they went up to $1,000 and nobody was going to take it are they supposed to sit on the ground for 4 hours playing Let’s Make a Deal before somebody takes it? At some point you have to decide to go down the involuntary process.

  18. United committed a criminal act and is now engaging in a criminal conspiracy coverup. Everyone believes United’s version of the deadheading crew, however local news reports state the United crew was on stand-by. If it was so important for them to fly that night, they should have boarded first as I’ve seen other airlines do many many times, otherwise drive them to their destination. United used the police to solve a business dispute and this is something one sees in police states, not in the USA. They overtly abused the high security processes in effect that will result in reduced effectiveness as more and more people begin to fight back against the unfair and immoral behavior. This will make flying more uncomfortable for everyone else. I vote for the resignation of the CEO and the local employees going to jail. I don’t think this is going to go away soon. I was going to try United’s new Polaris product, but now I won’t and I have forbidden anyone in my company from flying United under any circumstances.

  19. Here’s a different solution. They called up a reserve crew to catch the flight and bail out the down line airplane. The same schedulers should have immediately reserved positive space seats and informed the gate personnel the crew were enroute to the airplane, allowing the gate agent the opportunity to hold the seats before general boarding.

    1. This whole incident is a testament to the airline putting too much pressure on getting the flight out on time. If the gate had time to think and to escalate up to supervisors, they probably could’ve resolved this without having to call CPD.

    2. What makes you think it didn’t happen that way?

      There is the very real possibility that the reserve crew was allocated last minute and the positive space seats forced the oversell at that time. I don’t think we know one way or another yet.

    3. People seem to also forget that crews have union contracts which protect them from being last man on the totem pole when it comes to getting home.

    4. A little birdie told me there was 13 minutes of unrecorded discussion before the punch was thrown and the guy was taken off the plane. The cops ultimately made that decision. Further, airlines are responding to the public when setting the onetime performance priority metrics. Research shows that on time departure is paramount with high value business travelers.

    5. The fact is the company was trying to staff another flight down line from Chicago where over 100 people were involved in a potential cancellation. It’s common to give a deadheading crew priority over 4 passengers in that case. The problem is all about how those 4 seats were allocated and assigned. The whole thing would never have spiraled out of control had the passenger not already boarded the flight before the must ride crew showed up. That’s simply a matter of proper operational coordination .

  20. This wasn’t technically “overbooking.” It was United Flight Ops dropping the ball on scheduling as they often do. They SHOULD have put the “needed crew” in a small charter or a VAN and gotten them to Louisville. Shame on you for making it sound like United was just following procedures and placing ANY of the blame on the passenger beaten by the pigs.

    1. Putting the crew in a van doesn’t work for the legal crew rest requirements. And those rules exist for good reason.

      1. As do proper scheduling procedures. The flight was already fully boarded when the “crew” decided to mosey on up to the gate. It’s a Rule 24 problem; NOT a Rule 25 or Rule 21 problem.

        They could have cancelled the ENTIRE flight and then used it to transport their 4 deadheads, but that would have cost astronomically more than just yanking four already boarded PAX off. So they skirted their own CofC to save money and it’s going to ultimately cost them a lot more.

        1. Boom. NOT Rule 25.

          “United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said Tuesday that all 70 seats on United Express Flight 3411 were filled, but the plane was not overbooked as the airline previously reported. Instead, United and regional affiliate Republic Airlines, which operated the flight, selected four passengers to be removed to accommodate crew members needed in Louisville the next day.”


          1. All I read that to mean is that it was not a traditional oversold situation where the airline purposefully sells more tickets than there are seats. Once the 4 must-rides are added to the manifest it is oversold and the usual machinations commence.

  21. This was NOT overbooking but pathetic Flight Ops. So as a passenger, it I am 2 seconds past the 10 minute (and on UA, often earlier earlier) boarding time for ANY reason, I pay an absurd fee for rebooking to an already open seat later in the day. If UA screws up and has to kick 4 passengers to get another flight out, they call the police! I fly from SFO and gave up on UA 16 years ago. Others should do the same. Your ‘confirmed reservation’ means nothing to these Nazi creeps. SO Many to resolve reasonably and UA chose the most physical, obnoxious option available. But my real question is why did the Chicago Police HELP with this absurd process. Apparently the police don’t just shoot and kill you, wonderful!

    1. The part where you think other airlines do not have similar policies is cute but myopic.

  22. You can speculate on the reason for needing to deadhead crews all you want. The fact remains, this happens all the time and we never hear anything about it. Because people don’t say no to the captain’s orders (or the police). End of story. This passenger had an entitlement mentality, as if the rules don’t apply to him. Usually when these invol DBs take place, airline employees try and make it right by giving you a hotel, rebooking you on the next flight, refunding your money AND giving you a voucher for future travel. That’s how we did it in my many years at the airport. Was Republic wrong in deadheading crew members? I don’t know. But again, it happens all the time and I do not expect it to stop. Final thought, United needs a new PR department, big time!

    PS to the woman saying United has a higher rate of bumping than other airlines – check the stats before saying so. They’re mid pack for the past year.

  23. I once volunteered for a bump on a MAN-EWR flight. They told me they didn’t need me and I boarded. About 20 minutes later a gate agent came on the plane and said that they now needed my seat because a US Air Force officer with military orders needed my seat. I said I’d changed my mind. They IDBd me and said I was not entitled to anything because the military officer had orders. They gave me a $300 voucher as a “customer service gesture” and booked me on the same flight the next day. Lame.

    1. The only thing in this story that doesn’t sound right is that you were entitled to comp, likely more than the $300 voucher. But, yeah, they can absolutely remove you even after you’re seated on that plane.

  24. So, it’s now ok to throw a temper tantrum any time a crew member gives you instructions? I disagree with over-booking flights, as well as how the situation was handled, but let’s not reward bad behavior either. It sends out a message that passengers can do whatever they want to do, regardless of crew instructions.

    1. The requirement to obey crew instructions pertains to safety issues by law. Removing a passenger to make room for staff to travel is not a “safety” issue

    2. Get off the plane isn’t the same as turn off the phone. I fly a lot. I didn’t know they could boot you have you’re already seated. Yikes. You think ROSA PARKS should have given up her seat too?

    3. I get that the non rev girls last week deserved to be told to dress better. But I searched the United website. Where does it say seated passengers are meat that can be booted?

  25. Seth, I don’t know why you keep calling this an IDB, when the passenger was on the flight and sitting in his reserved seat. It’s pretty clear that Rule 25 from United’s CoC and the federal regulation 14 CFR 250.5 only apply prior to boarding the flight.

    Once on the flight and seated, Rule 21 of the CoC, Refusal of Transport applies, and there are no clauses allowing the removal of a boarded passenger for overbooking.

    So to all of you United apologists claiming they were just following their rules- nope, they weren’t. And as for the passenger needing to get off the plane- nope, he doesn’t, unless he’s violated one of the clauses in Rule 21.

    Bottom line, United violated their own contract and led to the battering of a customer- I don’t think this will end well for them.

    1. It would be nice if they added Boarding to the definitions to 250.1 It’s not the literal definition of boarding. Its considered involuntary denied boarding when your seat is taken from you and you are no longer a confirmed passenger. I guess we will find out soon what DOT’s official interpretation of “Boarding”

  26. Is there any sort of obligation to offer eventually offer the max compensation? Any update as to why they stopped offering where they did?

    1. My guess is that the passenger would be owed less in an IDB situation than the VDB voucher rate. Odds are the prorated one way fare was less than $330.

    2. What cost does the airline put on a voucher? It has to be much less than the face value (my guess would be ~50% of the value, but Seth Miller probably knows vetter):
      1. Many vouchers go unused
      2. People use them for flights they wouldn’t have taken with the airline so the cost is minimal

      So if they’d owed a $1300 IDB check, they could have easily offered a $2000 VDB voucher. My guess is that folks would have jumped at that and waited til Monday to fly, or made the ~4.5 hour drive.

  27. why would ua make vdb offer for next flights in the evening, first flights in the morning. on aa. othet connecting flights. ua is too cheap. that is the problem

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