There has been a lot of outrage aimed at United Airlines since they tried to force a man to "volunteer" to give up his seat, had him pulled off his place by security, beaten unconscious, and then had his limp body dragged off the plane. But few people are talking about the other side of things. Like the fact that United is a wonderful, caring airline that wouldn't do anything like that unless someone pushed them. I should know -- I spent a lot of quality time with United when I refused to pay a baggage fee and they locked me in the basement of their corporate HQ and attached jumper cables to my testicles until I cut them a check for $50.
First, let me point out that according to official reports, the man wasn't beaten -- he "fell." The cellphone footage of the incident clearly shows him falling straight sideways, assisted by security, face-first into an armrest. Now, that may look like a "push" or "violent shove" to some of you out there, but strange falls like this happen all the time. In the hospital after my stay at United HQ, I met another patient whose boyfriend was saying the exact same thing. He was explaining to the doctor that she'd fallen down a flight of stairs and hit both eyes on two separate doorknobs and also a majority of her ribs on other doorknobs. Some people are just clumsy and have a lot of doorknobs lying around! In some households, this is a shockingly common source of injury. Ask anyone from the '50s.
Second, because they're such good people, United apologized for having to "re-accommodate" the customers in question.
That's right, they apologized to all the passengers who had to give up their seats -- simultaneously underscoring what a caring company they are and how not-a-big-deal it was that one of them ended up bleeding profusely from his face, repeating "I have to go home" and "Just kill me." The takeaway here is that it takes a big corporate conglomerate to admit when they're wrong, and United is happy to take responsibility for slight inconveniences when it's actually their fault. Furthermore, they're already working with authorities and "this passenger" to "address and resolve" the situation, so the rest of us should probably keep to ourselves, because it's none of our business and bad things happen to noses that get stuck where they don't belong.
Also, let's not forget that the guy who rudely insisted on staying in the seat he paid for is no saint. In fact, he's a doctor. A doctor who once was convicted of trading drugs for sex! So we should be thankful to United for predicting, before having any information, that he had a troubled past! Even if United is sometimes rough with their passengers, it's not like we're so perfect. In fact, all the passengers filming Monday's exchange may have been breaking the law just by recording video on the airplane.
That violates the sacred bond between passenger and airline, as laid out in the contract of carriage. I once had the gall to ask a flight attendant for a second blanket. Can you honestly say we don't deserve to be treated like POWs by our airline?
And besides, if we didn't fly with United, nobody else would take us. We don't deserve regular flights to most major metropolitan airports with a 40 percent chance of delay and often a layover in Chicago or Houston.
That's frankly too good for us, and we should be grateful. What other choice do we have? Spirit? I shudder to think. Plus, remember that United only ordered this guy brutally dragged from his seat to make room for their staff so they could go help other passengers. Yeah, I guess maybe they overreact sometimes, but United only gets so crazy because they love us. Not to mention the fact that they're facing a lot of pressure in their business life after a bungled merger. It's not easy being United.
Finally, United CEO Oscar Munoz tweeted a heartfelt apology, making clear that no one is as disturbed by this situation than he is. No one. Most importantly, we know this is the last time this kind of thing will happen because he promised they will change, literally saying "I promise you we will do better."
The point is that United Airlines is a wonderful company that, if anything, is only guilty of loving us too much. They did nothing wrong, apologized to everyone involved, and vowed to never again do the thing they didn't do in the first place. That's why I'm sticking with United for all my air travel, and not because if this is how they treat their customers, I'd hate to see what they do to people on their bad side.
Aaron Kheifets is a writer who doesn't think it's very funny when anyone gets hurt. Especially himself. Don't click on this.
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