#Bumpgate is a big one. One of the worse weeks ever for any airline. Unlike #leggingsgate there was blood drawn. For that reason, and for that reason only, this incident will remain imprinted in many people’s minds. Whether this will have a direct effect on whether a significant amount of customers actually #boycottunited remains to be seen. Not even passengers from UA3411 this morning on CNN were willing to say they weren’t flying United anymore, and generally people have amazingly short memories.
Let’s look now at the other side of the coin here, which naturally hasn’t been discussed much at all: is the passenger to blame for any of what happened?
The airline could have and should have figured out a way to avoid the use of force to remove the passenger. They could have resorted to additional negotiation. They could have spiked the voucher offer. They could have chartered the crew that needed to be elsewhere. They could have placed them in a different airline’s flight. Something would have likely resolved this without having to either use force, or cancel a flight the next day. Something! Anything!!!
Law enforcement’s responsibility
Law enforcement is yet again on a difficult spot. They’re called to uphold the law. From their perspective, someone was breaking the law and needed to be removed. Unlike United, They didn’t need to know anything else. It was United’s responsibility to deal with the context of the situation, not law enforcement. But, could they have been gentler? I would think so. That man certainly didn’t look like he spent countless hours at the gym on a weekly basis, so I seriously put into question the over-the-top manner in which the beefy and strong policemen handled the passenger. Other passengers from the flight all mention that this happened very very fast. If that’s the case, then it sure seems like they were too quick to get physical with the passenger.
Other passenger’s responsibility
I was surprised that when things escalated up to a certain point no passenger raised their hand and said ok I’ll take the voucher, but please just leave that poor man alone. Sometimes when we’re in foreign situations, we lack the courage to act, so I’ll put some responsibility on the fellow passengers as well.
The passenger’s responsibility
I’ll make a comment here that will infuriate many, but still holds true. If the passenger had peacefully followed airline employees’ orders, this would’ve never happened. If the passenger had peacefully followed law enforcement’s orders, this would’ve never happened. Imagine if every time law enforcement asked anyone to do something, they refused. Imagine if every time a cop signals you to pull over on the freeway, you refuse. When the 20 police units finally stop you, you won’t be handled with as much care as you would have originally, and for good reason. So, while the source of this problem was United’s stupidity and stinginess, don’t forget that the man’s actions contributed to what ultimately resulted in him being dragged bloodied out of the plane. No, it doesn’t matter if he purchased the ticket. No, it doesn’t matter if he had already boarded. No, it doesn’t matter that he was a doctor. No, it doesn’t matter that he was Asian. All that mattered in that moment was that law enforcement was asking him to deplane and he refused. Why did the other selected passengers deplane? I’m sure they weren’t happy about it, but they realized that if the police says out, you step out, and resolve any issues and concerns through the proper channels.
In conclusion, I suppose it’s still too early for most to even consider what I just wrote. But there are many situations in our daily life where the same logic is applied and we don’t complain about it or think it’s outrageous. It’s the way of order. Should United be held accountable? Absolutely. But the passenger should as well.