Flying Blind

One of the recurring themes of this blog is “how companies, particularly those used to having control over their customers adapt/not to the new world of communications, the new world of technology that empowers the individual.”

Yes, you do know exactly where this is going.

My name is Sarah A. Hoyt, and I fly.  I don’t fly often — anymore — and I don’t fly with much degree of enjoyment because I was always rather afraid of flying.  (Afraid is not the right term.  I hate not being in control.)

But there was a time I flew more and with greater enjoyment.  This was around 99 to 2000 when for various reasons, we and the boys flew (tourism, mostly) about six times a year, return trips.  (So, twelve times a year.)

I don’t know if you remember those days?  You checked your luggage in, the planes were on time more often than not.  If not on time, they tried to compensate and be nice to you.

Unfortunately 9/11 changed that.  But I think the change was deeper than we think.  It wasn’t just that the airlines, suddenly faced with multiple delays and fewer passengers took the exactly wrong tactic to make themselves profitable again: charge for ALL the things, make the seats so small that when someone reclines, they’re in the lap of the people behind, etc.  No.  It was that this change was aided, abetted, directed by an authoritarian type of mentality.

I can’t prove it, but I think part of it was all the bail outs from government to the airlines.  The other part was that well… the entire flying experience became more authoritarian.  You have to submit to being checked from head to toe to even get aboard (and yet, as usual, I flew with both liquids and blades I didn’t know I was carrying last week.  It’s kabuki.)

Along with this came the airlines ability to remove/accuse of interference or threats or terrorism anyone who argues too loudly with any of its employees.  We’ve all heard stories of people removed/locked up/etc simply because they wouldn’t or couldn’t obey instructions.

I remember the woman handcuffed to the airport bench who died through lack of meds, the same lack that was causing her to act psychotic.

I think the ability to get away with mistreating passengers (and call the police on passengers if they complain) and getting away with some egregious abuses that people tolerate because “well, who knows, next time it could be a threat” has corrupted airline culture.

I think what happened to the United Passenger was not only predictable, but inevitable.  Once airlines get used to the idea that you’re “cattle” to be herded and told what to do, arbitrarily, and that if you refuse to pay for extras you’re negligible, you have set up the conditions in which a passenger, sooner or later will get abused and the abuse will get filmed.

As with publishing, we have an industry that has a monopoly and is told by the government it is “vital” and given subsidies to prove it.  (Well, publishing hasn’t been, I think, but you get the point.)

Because the employees have full authority and can back it up by accusing their passengers of terrorism/denying them boarding/creating trouble, they’ve got into this mentality where the passenger is NOT their customer, but simply widgets to be moved around, ordered about and treated, generally, like things of no account.

Which explains why our airline travel is rapidly coming to mimic the qualities of Soviet travel in its hey day.

I rarely fly these days.  In the last 9 years, we’ve retrenched our financial position so often we’re now out of trenchers.  Also, frankly, I hate flying these days.  You have to get there an hour and a half ahead of time, and half the time the flight will be changed/delayed/strange.  The strange part usually involves distributing my family around the airplane like a kid’s thrown marbles, seemingly for fun.  (Like last week, when Dan and I were separated and another couple were equally separated for no reason either of us could figure out. — we traded.)  This is a problem for me, because I have severe mid-range deafness.  Yes, at a noisy con, if I smile and nod when you tell me that you just grilled your neighbor with garlic, it’s because I have no idea what you said.  So, in a noisy plane?  I have no idea what the attendants are telling me at any given time.  I have no idea what the announcements are.  Usually I look at Dan/Robert/Marshall and they translate.  And yes, there have been one or two situations in which flight attendants thought I was being obtuse on purpose, but fortunately not escalating to violence, as I rarely travel alone.

So, it’s not a pleasurable experience.  The reasons I do it these days are to attend cons; to accompany Dan on a business trip; to see our aging/ailing relatives (yes, we know eventually we’ll arrive too late.  We’re too far away.  But we try.

And every time I travel, the flight is overbooked and they ask for volunteers.  Sometimes I’m really tempted, because, say, a voucher for 1k would pay a trip to see my parents.  BUT what good does it do me to arrive, say, at Liberty con on Sunday, then turn around and come back.

I swear until yesterday I did not know you could get INVOLUNTARILY bumped, and the idea fills me with dread.  The reasons I travel, I’ll still have to travel, but it has the potential of nullifying the entire reason I am even there.

More on this later.

For now, everyone who is reporting on the UAL incident is saying the “doctor involved” has a shady past.  This is TO AN EXTENT TRUE.  Kind of.  He had some problems, some of them apparently resulting from PTSD (his treatment at the hands of the airline must REALLY have helped that) that led him into shady behavior AFTER which he did everything in his power to clean up his act.

The interesting thing here is where the Louisville newspaper reporting on him found his name to do the background check.  It wasn’t in early reports, and it was only in possession of the airline.

Did the airline give the name to the newspaper?  I don’t know.  I wish I could say it was unthinkable.

However, the behavior of various people coming out at the same time to defend United and to tarnish in any way the reputation of the man they were caught abusing, reminded me of the incident when I posted Frontiers of Insanity post.

This was a time when my blog got on a good day about 100 hits, but within hours of my putting up a post critical of Frontier, we had a bonafide Frontier apologist, casting aspersions on my character and acting like I was crazy and “entitled.” (BTW if you want a glimpse into how crazy and authoritarian airlines have got, that experience is a good example.  And it’s not even the worst we’ve had.  The absolute worst was 9? years ago when flying back from Chattanooga took us on a tour of the US, including overnight in Chicago and bringing us home too late to go through the mandatory parent interview to get #2 son into a dual college/high school program.  Fortunately Older Son ably filled in for us, and we just had to go in and sign papers after.)

This same comment about being “entitled” was left by a United Employee on a post of mine on FB yesterday.  He said I didn’t understand the trouble with trying to subdue a planeful of entitled and unruly people.

I don’t like the term “entitled.”  It is too often used by people who think they have authority over you to tell you to fall in place.  Yes, I know, you do get “entitled” people, who demand safe spaces and think life should be “fair” like an eternal kindergarten.  But there are better terms for them, like “infantile” and “full of hubris.”

In the context of the airline, let’s dissect “entitled.”  You’re d*mn right I’m entitled.  When you pay for a service, you are entitled to that service.  It is known as “contract”.  And I don’t really care if the government says it’s legal for them to drop people involuntarily.  The government is no arbiter of morals.  The truth is that in any other industry, if I pay for something I’m ENTITLED to it.  And if people revoke it after payment, it’s called fraud and there are all kinds of ugly consequences.

Just because the government thinks airlines are “essential” and enables ugly behavior, it doesn’t make it RIGHT.

Entitled?  Damn right I’m entitled.  When I pay for something, I bought it, and it’s mine, whether it’s a service or a physical thing.  This is known as property rights, and — as such — is the cornerstone of the civilized society we used to be.

Again, I didn’t know until this week that airlines could just refuse boarding at will.  I still need to fly, but the idea that it can be arbitrarily denied because of someone else’s priority or someone else’s fuck up does not make me love it more.  I always assumed they just offered more and more money until SOMEONE took it.

Yeah, yeah, I know “overbooking is why flights are so cheap.”  Is it?  Is it really?  I don’t know what the rate of missing/not being there for flights is.  I’ve missed ONE flight in my entire life.  It would seem to me that having passengers on standby would take care of that.  SURELY if you’re actually compensating people for giving up their seats — and playing fair with compensation.  I’ve heard rumors United Airlines vouchers are useless — it costs you more than one or two empty seats.

The only time another … ah… company denied me the right to a service I paid for, it was the post office, who told me I couldn’t have the mailbox where the previous owners had had it, under the porch, but must have it down seventeen steps, at street level, because their UNION didn’t want them to have to climb that many steps.

In both cases, both institutions were heavily subsidized and protected by government.  In both cases, service is/was lousy.  In both cases the person being served wasn’t viewed as the CUSTOMER or the person who actually kept them in business.

I fully expect airlines to say that passengers must “build in” days to their travel, to insure they get there in time.  I mean, the post office told me — when I pointed out having the box on the street, in a street with pedestrian traffic was asking for theft — that I should have anything important and certainly not checks sent to me.  (Which explains why they’re increasingly Spam Mail.)

What I say is that if I need to build in hotels for an extra night at each end, then their flights must be WAY cheaper.

In the end this is the problem with the game of authoritanism and subtraction of services the airlines play.  Sooner or later, you’ve subtracted everything, and frankly Greyhound starts sounding good.

And then, perhaps, government decides you’re not essential anymore and stops subsidizing you.  Or you have to learn to subsist on package-carrying only.  OR — and it’s already happening — an airline that actually believes their customers are their customers and deserve to be treated as human beings comes into being and sends you into bankruptcy.

What I know is that right now, where we are, United COMPLETELY misunderstands their position.  From their half-hearted excuses, to the letter their CEO sent to employees telling them they had done nothing wrong and the passenger was a poopy head, they completely fail to understand that the public in whose court of opinion they’re being tried are those same widgets they’ve been pushing around and mistreating for YEARS.

Frankly, just in terms of how closely packed together we were last week, I have enough of a hate-in for them to last me for years.

United has been very close to my “no, not even if it’s half the price” list.  Now they’re firmly on it.  I’m sure I’m not alone.

And that in the end is what happens when you forget who actually PAYS you and who you’re SUPPOSED to serve.  At some point, you subtract enough — like, assuring them you’ll actually transport them for money — that you find you no longer have customers.

It’s a great way to go out of business.  And all for lack of understanding that they’re selling SOMETHING and not in charge of ordering people around to suit the airline’s convenience.

NO ONE is entitled to your business.  NO ONE is entitled to play bait and switch with you. And companies who think they are and can will eventually be “rewarded” with disappearance.  It might take some time, but it’s inevitable.

The way to stay in business is to offer what your customers want and to be nice to them while providing it.

An idea so crazy it might just work out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

485 responses to “Flying Blind

  1. Chris Nelson

    Back in the ’80s when I was returning from the Navy I got asked to volunteer my seat on a AA flight for a later flight and $200. I called my uncle ahead of time and told him not to go to the airport that night. 3 skipped flights later I was in first class next to a world class opera singer and had a down payment on a car in my pockets. Bought breakfast for my uncle who taught me that trick.

    Now days I don’t want to go anywhere near a commercial airport. I don’t mind catching a ride with pilot buddies or scoping out the warbirds, but avarice and 9/11 ruined normal air travel.

  2. Thoroughly correct. United and American are both on my list of never-ever. The free market takes care of these things, as long as it’s allowed to remain free.

    Good insights here. Thanks.

  3. I really, really, really hate flying these days. Not because I am scared of the whole thing (used to have a pilots licence and it was one of my happiest times), it’s because of the feeling of being crammed into seats with obnoxious passengers. Worst experience was I had booked a return trip for a business conference and timed it so I would have enough time to get home for my regular job. A group of ten of us showed up at the airport to find the flight had been cancelled. Needless to say two of us managed to get a connection that got us home JUST in time, while the other group had to go backwards before going forwards, and had their luggage arrive three days later. Then there have been other trips.
    I agree the whole arriving 2 to three hours early just to check in is annoying. Especially for a 2 hour flight. :/
    Buses aren’t much better either, and I can’t afford a car currently.

  4. Excellent post! I was also quite surprised to find out that airlines can just “volunteer” people to vacate their flights. It’s one thing to keep upping the bid until somebody bites, but quite another to just force people out of a seat and off a plane that they paid to be on. And to do it for the sake of company employees only makes it worse.

    I’ve heard several apologists already arguing that no matter how inconvenient it was, you have to obey a flight crew’s “requests” and if you don’t, it’s grounds for you to be kicked off, arrested, or both. That may well be true under the law, but it doesn’t make it right nor is it a valid excuse for a crew to abuse that authority. That’s like giving the class bully the hall monitor’s sash. “Give me your lunch money or I’ll beat you up and drag you to detention for resisting.”

    The crew created that situation, and once they were met with the least resistance it was time for a crackdown.

    Also, the whole idea of “they have to overbook because people sometimes cancel and then the flight isn’t full” argument seems a bit strange to me. We don’t fly much anymore, but back during the first decade of the 2000s we flew at least a couple dozen times, if not more. I can’t remember a single time where my ticket was refundable in any way, for any reason. If I missed my flight, the airline kept my money and (presumably) sold the seat to someone else, so they got double the money. So, even if the plane was half empty when it took off, so long as the tickets were paid for did it really matter? Other than gravy, what exactly do they have to lose?

    • The fine print on the back qualifies as an “unconscionable contract” in US law. That’s when a contract is so one-sided that a reasonable person would find it unjust.

      That doesn’t mean companies don’t keep writing contracts like that; any time they can get someone to give up instead of going to court, they win. Take a look at your banking or cable contract some time. Generally, you guarantee to pay them subject to all sorts of penalties if you don’t, and they specifically state they don’t have to do anything at all for you.

    • Generally, if people fly they have a schedule to keep. A lot of times getting there a eight hours or a day late is just as bad as not going at all.

    • I seem to recall reading somewhere that the “raise a bribe until enough people accept” model was a new idea, coming in around the same time as the Reagan deregulation. The old was way the ‘You, you, and you; off” they used in this case.

      AS for why they want back? No idea.

      • Nope. The “raise a bribe until enough people accept” model is just a rephrasing of the concept of a free market; which has been around forever. You raise your offer until someone takes it. I would just about guarantee that if United had offered to put the next person on a later flight, cover their eating and lodging expenses (if any), and offered $2000 bucks on top that they’d have easily enough volunteers.

        • Had they actually offered 800 bucks someone would have taken it. Instead they offer $800 worth of air travel, probably subject to various conditions.

          • I don’t fly much, and am not in a position to do so. If getting $800 in cash and a delay of a day were what was offered, I might very well go for it…but if it’s $800 worth of air travel, then it’s practically useless to me, because I’d have to take even more time off, and plan yet another trip, to use it.

            (Not that I wouldn’t mind going on trips, mind you, I’m not able to do that. But $800 given immediately would mean I’d be able to pay down debt, or do something crazy like go out for a movie, or something. Heck, it may even mean I can take a day of unpaid vacation off!)

        • Actually, it’s a fairly recent idea in that an economist (I think) thought it up, and then tried to convince airline companies to do it. They thought it was a crazy idea at first, but eventually they came around to it, one at a time.

          It’s still a good idea, particularly since it avoids scenes like this.

    • They aren’t “refundable” in the sense of getting cash, but for a year, you can apply the cost of that ticket to another flight on that airline.

      • Which I’m sure is exactly what those passengers want after this: another flight on United.

    • I find it less than reassuring to be told by United’s Chief Executive Puppet that “established procedures were followed” by airline personnel.

      Well golly, I am so glad to know it is established procedure to drag a person off the flight by the arms instead of by the heels. I wonder at the committee that approved that procedure. Did they take into account that many people have limited range of motion in their shoulders? Did they review a range of methods for dragging passengers off planes to determine which were safest? Did they establish different procedures for men, women, children?

      The minutes of those meetings ought be fascinating reading.

      • Established procedure involves calling security to remove a passenger who is posing no threat to the safety of the aircraft, crew, or other passengers and then letting security drag him away kicking and screaming?
        Then established procedure owes the entire airline and everyone employed by it, and every potential customer an abject apology. If it’s insufficiently abject, then established procedure should be fired and replaced with someone who can tell the difference between customer service and what the stallion does to the mare on a stud farm.

      • Yes, it is nice to know that beating their customers bloody and dragging them half-unconscious off the plane is covered under “established procedures were followed.”

        See, this kind of thing is why gun control is a bad idea. As soon as -any- powerful group has people at their mercy, physically speaking, this type of behavior is inevitable. United and the other airlines will double down on this too, you may be sure.

        Because I know certain cranialy-deficient SJW types read this blog (I’m lookin’ at you, Big G), I will explain that no, I am not advocating that people draw their sidearms and fire them on crowded aircraft. That would be bad.

        I -am- suggesting that an armed society is a polite society, and the problem of thuggish cops and apparently thuggish airline employees would vanish instantly.

        For those cranial-deficients who are now hyperventilating at the thought of Old West shootouts, let’s compare death tolls, shall we? Freedom and no gun control in the 19th Century Old West, maybe a couple hundred duels and casual shootings in a hundred years. But what the hell, let’s be generous to the SJWs. Let’s pretend it was like Chicago. 700+ senselessly slaughtered in cold blood, every year, for 100 years.

        Central planning and gun control, 100 million dead in the 20th Century. Maybe only a couple or three million in the 19th, the Turks suck at that sort of thing.

        Can you even math, Barbie?

        This is why logic, mathematics and rational thought generally is not taught in our schools these days. Too inconvenient for people pushing central planning and gun control.

        • Ordinarily I’d agree with you. But allowing loaded guns with regular ammo in a pressurized cabin isn’t a very good idea, even with terrorists on board.

          • I don’t believe there’s as much danger of depressurization as you think. If someone fired a gun inside an airplane, missed their intended target, and pierced a hole in the fuselage, the plane would depressurize quite slowly, and the pilots would have ample time to bring the plane down to about 10,000 feet (where there’s enough oxygen to avoid hypoxia). Look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southwest_Airlines_Flight_812, where a two-foot hole (according to the Wikipedia article) caused rapid depressurization, much more rapid than a bullet hole (or even 9-10 bullet holes) would create.

            The bigger problem with guns on an aircraft is that if you pull out a gun to shoot a terrorist, there’s pretty much NO direction in which you can point the gun without pointing it at an innocent person. You’d better make sure ALL your shots hit the terrorist (and don’t over-penetrate) or else you’re going to be putting several stray rounds into fellow passengers. And that’s basically not possible: in pretty much ANY situation where pulling out your gun would be justified, your target isn’t going to be standing around waiting for you to shoot him. He’s going to be moving, taking cover, shooting back, etc.

            • And since I just gave myself an excuse to post this, here’s why depressurization is a problem. It’s not the danger of being sucked out of the aircraft, it’s because hypoxia makes you do things like this and still think you’re functioning normally:

              I’m sure the pilots who hang out here have seen this video before, but that’s my favorite video to demonstrate what hypoxia does.

              Four of spades, four of spades…

              • Yes, hypoxia is a Bad Thing, but a sudden less-than-half-inch hole in any airliner pressure vessel will never be noticed, except by the pressurization valve as it opens a teeny amount more to allow more pressurized bleed air from the jet engines into the cabin so as to fully compensate for the minor pressure differential caused by the resulting leak.

                Talk to folks who do airline maintenance sometime and they will tell you about huge gaping metal tears that they’ve found in airliners when they are in for major maintenance (C- or D-checks), often caused by unnoticed shifts in baggage (the baggage compartment is pressurized, just not heated) or various overenthusiastic baggage handlers. If such large gaping metal tears happen to be in a location that’s hard to see, no one ever finds out until they pull everything apart during major maintenance.

                Only the most un-fortuitously placed .40 caliber hole (I am reliably informed that’s what Federal Air Marshals carry: 40 S&W frangible, more to prevent overpenetration of bad guys in a crowded cabin than to protect the plane) is going to make any difference in the continued function of an airliner.

              • It’s not only not a big deal, it’s not a problem at all.
                it takes a long time to depressurize a large airplane through a little hole. No one is going to suffer the effects of hypoxia before they can get down below 12,000 feet.
                Plus there are the backup oxygen masks for everyone on board.
                Catastrophic is also not that big a deal, (been through it). Depending on altitude you have anywhere from 15 to 45 seconds to put on your mask before you freeze up. As long as the pilots get theirs on, again, no big deal because you’ll be down to a safe altitude long before you’ll start to die. Also a lot of aircraft now have a feature in the autopilot to get to a lower altitude automatically if cabin pressure is lost.
                It’s just not really that big of a deal, unless you’re flying in a small plane.

                • … unless you’re flying in a small plane.


                  Or are subject to Hollywood Science.

                  • tis amazin’ how Wile E. like a plane can be dropped from the sky.
                    Once, while fueling a flight not of SWA, a Delta flight landed in an emergency, and used a non-Delta gate next to where I was waiting for the flight I was to do.
                    They were a 767, forget where they were going, but were south avoiding storms, and over Lake Charles, LA, a passenger had a heart attack. They dropped from over 50,000 feet and came straight into New Orleans. To quote the Co-Pilot: “Gotta make sure all the big bits are still attached.”
                    When he came back around “Yep, Two Wings, Two Engines, and the tail is still there.” He said it was a bit like flying the Vomit comet, though not quite as fast a drop.They also needed a restock of barf bags.

              • After seeing that video, I can’t help but wonder if I go for entire days like that. It’s more likely a lack of sleep, though, rather than a lack of oxygen.

                The most annoying thing about the lack of sleep — exacerbated by the extra-long hours at work I’m expected to keep right now — is that I come home and want to do two or three things. Often I only want to read. But the dust settles, and it’s well past midnight or 1am or 2am because I couldn’t bring myself to stop reading. Overall, I have this sense that I can only do one thing after coming home from work, and if I do anything else, my chances to get to bed early are doomed.

                I *really* wish I were in a position to work less than full time…

            • It’s not the bullet hole that bothers me. It’s the sudden lessening of structural integrity of the aircraft skin with 300 to 400 mph wind tearing at it. Reminds me of the joke about skydivers jumping out of perfectly good aircraft; when the aircraft mechanic pipes up and says there’s no such thing as a perfectly good aircraft. Remember when the roof of that one flight in Hawaii blew out and they lost a stewardess? Airlines are stretching their maintenance cycles to squeeze more profit. And it’s not making their aircraft any safer.

              • To be fair, the pop-top conversion in Hawaii was because the initial maintenance checks for airframe lifecycle stress were set at a “reasonable” interval for most airline travel. They hadn’t factored in that Hawaii would be doing so many pressurization cycles for so few hours, as they hopped between islands.

                So the entire airframe was stressed, not just a few bullet holes. Which is why those checks are now on a per-cycle basis.

                I can’t blithely say “Oh, you can put a 9mm hole anywhere and it’ll be fine.” because there are a lot of places on the aircraft where it would be very not-fine at all. But as far as pressurization goes – it’d be fine. If you manage to take out an entire window, things would get a lot noisier, windier, colder, and the patients with heart trouble, asthma, COPD, and pregnancies may have severe distress if they don’t get the masks on (and all the drunks would go to sleep.) But everyone else would be fine, too. (Though we’d urge you to get the masks on anyway, since there’s no way to tell who’s got medical problems and who doesn’t, except with a bad outcome. And, less people moving around panicking is good.)

                • The other rule, too – which I have no idea about how well it is followed when untrained people are faced with the situation – get your mask on first, then turn to your nearest and dearest.

                • This. Y’all already covered anthing I would’ve said from my A&P studies years back, but one thing I’d add is I am totally okay with *pilots* being armed (if trained, etc) and some staff (again, good trainind required). Not general yayhoos on the bus in the sky. Of which I’d be one, were I ever to fly.

                • I can’t blithely say ‘Oh, you can put a 9mm hole anywhere and it’ll be fine.’

                  For one thing, a 9mm hole in the pilot would probably be inconvenient.

              • A handgun can’t do that kind of damage. Not in one or two or probably even a dozen shots. Airliners are pretty solidly built.

                • Michael Houst

                  Having climbed around aircraft for nearly half my life, I respectfully disagree.

                  • Having seen stuff run into an airframe, they are stout enough an AK emptied in the upper half is unlikely to cause much damage. Although, running a provision truck into the rear door area of a 727 will ding it enough it cannot fly, the reason is FAA, not structural (A United plane in fact).

                    • Yeah, but with some of the electronics in an airbus, I’m willing to bet you’d start getting some truly interesting error codes and interesting times if you thrashed, trashed, or intermittent-electrical-faulted it… and this is where I give you big innocent eyes as I firmly kick the hornet’s nest, and say “after all, we all know it was an electrical fault that got TWA 800.”

                    • To this day my brother still says it was a missile.
                      Seeing as he saw it with his own eyes from his boat.

                    • Ah, I kinda don’t consider Airbus as aeroplanes. I hates them! HATES!

                      I knew a maintenece guy who though the design cause of 800 was highly possible, but was in no way positive that was the cause. Not enough of the bits pulled out of the water to be certain.

                    • “Yeah, but with some of the electronics in an airbus, ”

                      Yeah, especially with an autopilot whose programming is already halfway to HAL9000 (“I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t do that. I’m going to insist you fly into the trees now.”).

                      For those who don’t know, Airbus allows their autopilot to override the pilot, even in an emergency, and has lost aircraft as a result. Ghu only knows what the damn thing would do with a .45 caliber lobotomy.

                    • I’ve flown on Douglass, Boeing, Airbus, and assorted other makes (including a good many private small single engine props) and the only aircraft that made me nervous about was an Airbus – and that before I knew how the control system of the thing was set up. I presume the system has a fuel economizer and on that flight it was set extremely aggressively. I couldn’t nap as I kept feeling as if the plane was changing gear – poorly. And this was the thing I wound up on instead of the turboprop I’d booked. Credit to the airline I had originally booked on (whichever one it was back then) for getting me to the right region about the right time, even if not exactly where I’d hoped to be. Fortunately I knew someone at the ‘wrong’ place who was going to my final destination.

                    • Add me to the “avoid Airbus if at all possible” list. Boeing still believes that the pilot should be in control, not the programmer.

                    • ontier has an A319 iirc that every time it landed at New Orleans, contract maintenance had to come out and reboot the plane’s computer system.
                      Buggier than Windows ME

                  • Ah, I see you’ve made the same conclusion about airplanes that I have about the telecommunication and the software industries.

                    • What, you mean that telecos and software are run on the digital equivalent of duct tape and baling wire, and that with a very few exceptions digital security is as much a kabuki show as airport security?

                    • Knew a gal who did an internship with Wisconsin Public Service (electrical utility). They claimed to have two identical computers. One to run the grid, the other 100% isolated for running simulations and such. She related how one fine day she nearly took down the grid with the simulator. That 100% isolation evidently wasn’t. She also related how so much was running if not on the ragged edge, too close and overall it’s pretty miraculous it all holds together. From what I’ve seen of other places and industries and such, I get the idea that that is more common than we’d like or like to admit. I do find myself wondering if we’re more than one stuck valve from disaster.

          • I’m guessing you missed the Mythbusters episode when they tested this.

          • Why not? Seriously, what’s wrong with that idea?

          • I see you missed the part where I said: “no, I am not advocating that people draw their sidearms and fire them on crowded aircraft. That would be bad.”

            Is this understood? Shooting in a crowd is bad. We don’t do that.

            I will go further. Firing your sidearm is 99.95% likely not to be the solution to almost any problem. All our knowledge of history, our range training and common sense dictate this truth.

            But.

            HAVING a sidearm is more than sufficient solution to both the problem of terrorism and government protected thuggery. You don’t have to shoot back. The mere fact that you -can- shoot back ensures it will never happen.

            Yes, widespread carry of firearms is a potential safety hazard, particularly on aircraft. Running with scissors. Somebody might lose an eye.

            But again, let us compare the death toll from every air disaster since Kitty Hawk to only -one- regime that has reached Peak Totalitarian.

            Because that’s what we’re talking about here. If they can beat you half to death and DRAG your broken ass off an airplane because you said “NO! I will not cooperate!” and then smear your name in the newspapers to boot, how big a step is it to getting beaten and dragged out of your house?

            Stuff like that happens all over the world, all the time. You’re a menace to “public safety” because somebody dropped a dime on you. The cops drag you away and nobody hears from you again.

            Somebody tell me about air safety again. “Safety regulations” is Newspeak for “you are my b*tch until that door opens.”

            I aim to misbehave.

            • The mere fact that you -can- shoot back ensures it will never happen.

              Emphasis added.

              I am not sure those words mean what you think they mean.

              • Well, are you going to start it up with a guy you know is armed?

                Did the BLM idiots start it with the armed ranchers a couple years ago?

                Did the OPP start it with the very armed Mohawk Smugglers Society in Caledonia back in 2006?

                See?

                The principle can be seen in action when a state switches to “shall issue” concealed carry licenses. The violent crime rate in every case so far has dropped by double digits. But the number of people shot in the commission of a crime -also- drops. Steeply.

                The criminals don’t stop doing their crimes because they got shot by a CCW holder. They stop because they know it isn’t SAFE anymore.

                Fear can be a pretty wonderful thing.

                • News out of Chicago suggests the risk of your target also being armed is less restraining of malevolent impulses than we might like.

                  Don’t even want to talk about rappers, bangers and their coterie.

        • Central planning and gun control, 100 million dead in the 20th Century. Maybe only a couple or three million in the 19th, the Turks suck at that sort of thing.

          Don’t forget the Belgians. King Leopold’s version of central planning and gun control accounted for a couple of million Congolese in just 15 years, and that was in the 19th century. Marxists all over the world must have been gleefully taking notes, to be dusted off and used as manuals come the revolution.

          • Or Japan. Sword control. Lots of dead peasants.

            • Japan was the one country that succeeded in forcing the gun out of use. The tactics were totalitarian. (Also, it didn’t have to worry about its neighbors.)

          • Yeah, knowing about that episode gave a clear mental picture when the villainous captain in Beau Geste, IIRC, was introduced with the line that “he had been expelled from the Belgian Congo for atrocities beyond the pale even for King Leopold’s merry men.”

  5. And now I have to rewrite my blog post because I’m too slow and you wrote exactly what I wanted to say.

    There are (now) three large traditional carriers in the US – Delta, American and United. If this story and the countless others like it that are showing up has the effect I expect it to have United is going to go bust again and this time no one is going to take them over or bail them out.

    That may well help concentrate the minds at American who are, from what I can tell, marginally better that United but not so much that they might not end up having gate agents do something similar.

    [ Delta – amazingly given that it is in the International alliance with Air Chance (err France) – actually has very good customer service. I’ve flown with them a fair few times in recent years and never had a bad experience, even the time when LAX was stupid and we got stuck in TSA hell (don’t ask). ]

    • What about Southwest?

      • Southwest isn’t one of the old traditionals. They tend to be cheap service-wise, but I haven’t had any problems with them.

        • One time at Phoenix Airport, my wife and I missed our connection (on Southwest). We’d had plenty of time to get to the gate, but I’d forgotten to reset my phone’s time zone to Mountain Time. So we thought we had a 2.5 hour layover, when it was actually only 1.5 hours — and we sat eating a leisurely lunch while our plane was boarding. When we finished lunch and realized that we’d missed our flight (when I saw a clock in the airport hallway and said “Oh crap, that doesn’t match my phone, and I bet it’s not that clock that’s wrong”), I walked up to a Southwest customer-service desk and told the agent, “We just missed our connection”. She looked at our tickets, booked us on the next flight to our destination (about 3 hours later), and that was that. No extra charges, no fuss, just “Let me see what I can do to help you out” even though it was our own fault we’d missed our ticketed flight.

          I like flying Southwest. They don’t serve enough of the airports I fly in and out of all the time, so I can’t choose them very often, but I’ve had nothing but good customer service from them every time I’ve flown with them.

          • The last time I missed my connection because I was too slow on crutches from Gate A13 to Gate 3456B-that terminal-over-yonder, Southwest just put me on standby. The first flight was full, and the second one, they plunked me on a baggage cart and whipped me over to Gate Escher516-this-terminal-exists? so I made it in plenty of time.

          • Southwest flies out of the nearest airport to my house and they’re good folks.

      • I was deliberately excluding them as not being “traditional”. Southwest are awesome

    • Wouldn’t Alaska Air qualify as a large traditional air carrier?

  6. United got humiliated, lost almost a billion in market value – and convinced a lot of people that they’d rather fly AOA – any other airline.

    Seems the free market system is working quite well.

    But I do get what you’re saying about the total airline experience. TSA seems like a test: how much utter nonsense are people willing to put up with. Putting uniforms on and handing police powers (which they don’t really have, but I would not discuss that with them unless you have a LOT of time to kill before your flight) to incompetent ninnies who would fall through the Taco Bell or K-Mart hiring process in the name of Security is such a transparent joke – unless your goal is a massive make-work program and training the public to follow orders now matter how stupid (but I thought school took care of that).

    Airlines would be tempted to see this as the new normal, and to see themselves as part of it – United, as the big dog, would be particularly subject to this – but then we have the spectacle of the death by a thousand cuts United is now experiencing. Their competitors are not going to let this go, that’s for sure.

    • The problem with TSA (as I may have mentioned a dozen times before) is that is is unnecessary, and has always been unnecessary. Or, rather, it was a political necessity, not a practical one. After 9/11 there was a vast outcry for the government to “do something” about airport security. It wasn’t a good idea; the next time a bunch of imbeciles with box cutters tries to take over a flight full of Americans, they are going to get stuffed into the overhead luggage compartment in somewhat used condition. But the demand was there.

      Now, a lot of people think Bush was a dolt. I happen to suspect that he was, in fact, pretty bright. I think he looked at Airport Security, realized it didn’t need federal ‘help’, and then accept the political reality that he was going to have to ‘do something’ about it. But he certainly didn’t want to send any time or attention on it. So the TSA was created, with scant oversight, with anybody ‘in the know’ aware that it was as useless as teats on a boar. Under those circumstances, the new agency was quickly full of imbeciles, cowboys, and empire builders.

      And thus we get what we see today.

      • If I were the protesting type, (which I’m not), and if I though protests would do any good (which I don’t), I’d volunteer to march back and forth around the airport entrance with a picket sign, chanting “Hey Hey, Ho, Ho, TSA must go”.

        • Disagree. It was not a political necessity. Or any other kind. It was the government refusing to do what is actually needed to stop terrorist. Profiling. Placing greater scrutiny on those who fit the template of previous terrorists.

          • Implementing “Grave of the Hundred Head” on terrorists’ country of origin and adding a zero for every repeat offense.

            “There’s a widow in sleepy Chester
            Who weeps for her only son;
            There’s a grave on the Pabeng River,
            A grave that the Burmans shun;
            And there’s Subadar Prag Tewarri
            Who tells how the work was done.

            A Snider squibbed in the jungle,
            Somebody laughed and fled,
            And the men of the First Shikaris
            Picked up their Subaltern dead,
            With a big blue mark in his forehead
            And the back blown out of his head.
            *********************************************************
            Then a silence came to the river,
            A hush fell over the shore,
            And Bohs that were brave departed,
            And Sniders squibbed no more;
            For the Burmans* said
            That a white man’s head an American’s head
            Must be paid for with heads five-score.”

            https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/grave_of_hundred_head.html

            * note that from the details in the poem (“the Boh”, and “Peacock Banner”), the targets were Burmese Muslims.

      • Dr. Jerry’s Iron Law, in spades.

      • The whole idea that turning the airport security people into federal employees was going to improve things was always ridiculous, especially since what they mostly did was re-hire everyone who was already doing security. Apparently the theory was that Joe Smith working for Bob’s Security Contracting was an incompetent moron, but Joe Smith working for the US Government was an eagle-eyed genius who would never let anything* get by.

        * = Unless “anything” involved looking more closely at young Arab men, because you know that would be racist.

        • The entire insistence of Federalizing airport security was from our Disloyal Opposition in the Democrat Party. “To professionalize, you must Federalize”; Google it for plenty of confirmation. They basically said that unless Bush agreed to give them more SEIU members they would obstruct defending the country after 9/11. Bush’s mistake was in not telling them to FOAD and realizing that unless he terminated the Fifth Column with extreme prejudice, no defense would be possible anyway.

      • After the dot-com (V1.0) bust, I was working as a consultant helping a German test equipment company develop some new capabilities (got a few opinions on the overvalue of German Engineering, while I was at it, but…). This entailed three round trips from Silly Valley to Munich and vicinity, between Dec 2001 and June 2002.

        TSA was bad then (this was just after the shoe bomber, so my size-13s had to get checked out), but even France was pretty horrible. We had a layover at DeGaulle, and I saw the security types “randomly” select old ladies exclusively for extra screening. Curiously, the German security types in Munich were the most professional. I traveled with a CPAP rig, and after a little high-school German and handwaving, they were happy.

        Still, in 2005, when my stepfather passed away, I drove the 2000 miles from Oregon to the Midwest rather than negotiate the airline route. (Klamath Falls to Portland, 1 flight per day then, thence Portland to the Midwest. Plus, CPAP.) My mother is pushing 95, and I’ll try to make it, when the issue arises, but I’m not flying.

        Back in ’01 and ’02, United and Lufthansa were tolerable, as was Delta (barely*) and Scare France. (I liked the 777, was nervous about the tail-shedding Airbus, but the flights were uneventful.) Thanks, I’ll fly Subaru Forester. With a thumb drive, the en-route entertainment is better, too.

        (*) I asked for and got a bulkhead seat for my wide and tall frame. They didn’t bother to explain that “bulkhead =/= more legroom” in their plane. No little kids leaning back, but bugger-all for foot room.

        • I was coming out of Vienna the day after the Shoe Bomber. Vienna was quiet (0500 departure, everyone’s quiet), Frankfurt was… interesting. Especially since a stupid American tourist tried to jump the security line and almost got skewered. I say stupid because everyone told him not to cut, and he insisted he knew what he was doing and tried to cut anyway. You don’t DO that in front of a bunch of already annoyed German security personnel and a herd of irritated airline passengers.

    • “Putting uniforms on and handing police powers (which they don’t really have, but I would not discuss that with them unless you have a LOT of time to kill before your flight) to incompetent ninnies who would fall through the Taco Bell or K-Mart hiring process in the name of Security is such a transparent joke”

      Or as Neal Boortz put it, “TSA is what you get when you give badges and guns to morons that McDonald’s rejected as counter help.”

      • It’s worse than that, my last Occ Med job involved a contract to perform TSA Physicals. TSA applicants were more likely than any other group of people I worked with to have a medical history as SOCMOBs (for those who’ve never worked in an ER that’s shot while “standing on a corner, minding my own business”, although one was slightly more creative and had been minding his own business in a pool hall instead). In fact they fell into exactly two categories, idealistic (but deluded) recent grads with Criminal Justice degrees that thought it was going to be their first step in a glorious career as a LEO and career criminals who’d realized that continuing said career with the full faith and authority of the US government behind them was less likely to get them shot again.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Would this have been after the Obama Administration ‘ban the box’ policy came into force?

          Because Obama could have some interesting thinking where strategies domestic were concerned.

    • Their competitors are not going to let this go, that’s for sure.

      It certainly didn’t take long to start: Emirates and
      can’t find the Southwest one, but it’s something like “we beat our competition’s prices, not our customers”.

    • I already was AOA . . . AOA-EAA
      Any Other Airline, EXCEPT American Airlines.
      Hate both AA and UA, and I’ve never flown either, but I have dealt with them in the work area. I fueled and AA was ALWAYS in the way, and UA was notorious for messing up.

      • My wife and I once came off an American Airlines flight, and I got my luggage dolly back bent out of shape. I have no idea what they could have done to it to make it that way, but when I went to the customer desk to complain, the person said “the tape says fragile, so you were putting the thing in at your own risk”. I didn’t argue with the twisted logic, but I couldn’t help but think

        (1) the tape was used not because the luggage dolly was fragile, but to keep it from swinging open after being checked in.

        (2) If the darn thing was fragile, your people should have handled it more carefully!

        (3) What the heck did you guys do to bend the luggage dolly anyway? I’ve used the darn thing as a dolly to move furniture. Did you run over it with a luggage cart? A fuel truck? An airplane?

        Sure, the replacement cost could have cost the airline about $25. (That’s about what it cost to replace the dolly.) Sure, I might not *completely* rule out AA for flights. Sure, I’m not even a regular flyer. BUT every time something like this comes up, you can bet I’m going to share this story. Every time I’m looking at ticket prices, and I see “American Airlines” I’m going to think that, yes, they might have a slightly better price, but their competitor is only just a little bit more. Every time I’m helping someone else get airplane tickets, and I see “American Airlines”, I will more than likely say “you know, you might want to be careful with that: here’s what happened to me”.

        I hope you’re satisfied with that $25 in savings, American Airlines. You seem to need every penny you can get!

        • American used to “Save” money by not buying the big tugs to push the plane away from the gate.
          Now, these “pushbacks” are a bit pricey, and very very heavy.
          So to get the planes out of the gate, AA had to goose the throttles, get the plane rolling forward, then hit the reversers, and go full throttle to back the plane up, then carfully goose them in forward again so the plane doesn’t do a tail stand (Old DC9/MD80/90 and B727 planes could get stuck like that), then typically AA then SAT there blocking traffic until finally getting around to moving.
          SWA used to allot approximately 600 pounds of fuel to get from the gate to take off (all fueling of flights is by the pound, a gallon weighs between 6.5 to 6.8 pounds, A pound weighs a pound).
          AA was burning 1000 pounds just to get out of the gate area. then its less efficient planes needed at least that 600 pounds, usually more (not just the old Douglas stuff) because they daudled on their start up procedures, Over twice the fuel to push and taxi, almost if not 3 times the fuel.
          SWA pushbacks were fueled by our night shift, and the most I put into one in one day (each gate had its own) was 5 gallons because it twice had issues and was pulled for maintenance before it got fueled. Normally they used maybe at most 10 gallons each a week for 6 pushbacks, so 60 gallons of diesel/jetA at about a $1/gl (the airlines pay taxes at their end, not the fueling company end, so when JetA was $3/gallon they paid 89 cents or so). So SWA paid for pushbacks that could retrieve an aircraft, tow them hither and yon, oh, and pushed it out while still starting up for pennies in fuel cost per flight. I mean normally a plane is pushed very little past its length, but even a long push is a few minutes most at idle . . . and to save that one time cost, AA burned almost $1000 more PER FLIGHT! Add that the extra wastage from sorry start up techniques and time wasting backing to taxi all while the engines are running, with AA usually at a higher speed than most others, and it is easy to see where they hemorrhage money.
          Finally they got a CEO who made them buy pushback tugs.

  7. I cordially detest almost all the airlines nowadays. Southwest is the best of a bad lot, and only because their employees are allowed to have fun. United and its now conjoined twin Useless Air (US Air) have been on my no-fly list for almost 10 years. None of the planes are comfortable for a man with very wide shoulders like me. I have to sit hunched up to avoid taking almost a quarter of the seat next to me. or lean out into the aisle (Always get an aisle seat).

    TSA and their useless bureaucratic kabuki are the crappy icing on the turd cake that is commercial aviation since 9/11.

    • USAir is AA. Continental bought UA.

      • That’s how long it has been since paid any attention to the big 3 airlines. The last time I saw anything about Useless Air, United was in line to buy them out of bankruptcy……

        • Eh. I fly in and out of Charlotte (Former USAir hub) multiple times a year. Usually is the least screwed up of American’s airports and flights.

          • George R Crichton

            Charlotte is not bad unless you are flying into the B terminal and your connecting flight is at the far end of E terminal and you have a short layover.

            • I’ve learned with AA after lots of flights in and out of dfw to always give an hour minimum. Only had to run twice of a dozen or so. DL is only one that I trust with arrival times and even then still not my preference. But I’m abnormal. My only bad experience was on SW on two separate flights. Invol’d once and father nearly missed flight because of voucher rules.

    • I’ve debated in my mind how an honest American – which I flatter myself to be – can reasonably tolerate being subjected to the patently phony idiocy of the TSA. I do it, because I’m there in the first place because I need or want to take a plane. I submit to humiliation at the hands of bureaucratic self-negating others on the assumption that I’m guilty until proven innocent.

      But one can well imagine a Patrick Henry or John Adams flipping them a stylish 18th century equivalent of the bird* and bringing the airport to a halt, rather than let some officious moron make them remove items of clothing, grope them or poke around in their stuff. They’d make them haul them off screaming before they’d submit.

      Ya know? So, what’s my excuse? That I have a plane to catch? Weak trade, that.

      (* I imagined as I wrote that all the historical fiction writers here reflexively plugging in whatever was, in fact, the 18th century equivalent of the finger – and I smiled.)

      • The bird was old by the 18th Century. How old? Well, it showed up in a play called The Clouds, written by fellow named Aristophanes in 423 BC.

      • ” They’d make them haul them off screaming before they’d submit. ”

        Well, actually, they might not…. but it’s a dead certainty that the cops and corporate types all the way up the chain of command would be getting a boiling tar and chicken feather body treatment at their houses within 60 days, courtesy of Sons of Liberty Spa Treatment.

      • I’ve sometimes wondered if we ought to set up a modern Tea Party event: dress up as cowboys and Indians, and with crowbars and sledge hammers, go in and pull out the naked-picture x-ray machines and smash them to bits.

        I don’t know how to organize such an event, though, or particularly how to do it and maintain a semblance of anonymity.

  8. The charge for every little thing started when the oil prices went up…

    • Feather Blade

      And I’m sure that those charges will be eliminated now that oil is cheap again./sarc

      • Yeah, right, my residential electrical bill still has a fuel sur-charge allowed them by the utilities commission back during the first oil crisis(1970’s???).

  9. People tend to forget there was airport “security”, long lines, long waits, and body searches before 2001.

    There’s no place I want to go that’s worth being treated the way airlines treat their customers. And I made that decision in 1986.

    Every time you buy a ticket, you’re just reinforcing their bad behavior.

    • I tend to feel this way, but I have parents nearly 1000 miles from me who are in their 80s. I hope and pray it doesn’t come to me having to fly-while-bereaved some day, because I know that would trip some goon’s “this person is a threat” sensor for me.

      (I wonder: would they “forcibly bump” someone who could prove they were on their way to a dying loved one’s bedside? My gut says “yes” though I’d hope someone else on the plane would step up to be Spartacus in that case)

      I remember when I was a kid, flying was fun and exciting. Then I learned about some of the big crashes and it was sorta scary but still fun. The last few times I flew (several years before 9/11/2001), it was miserable: the whole cattle-car experience. And that was even before the airport “security” became extra intrusive.

      • Yep. Dan and I have parents in their eighties, one set across the country and one across the Atlantic. We can’t choose not to fly.

      • Going to another continent, there aren’t many options besides airlines.

        A thousand miles is two easy days, driving.

        Compared to putting up with the TSA, airlines, and the price multiplier the airlines like to use for last-minute bookings, it’s a no-brainer.

        Even if you’re Jewish, travel time is allowed for.

        • Dan doesn’t have that time off.

        • It’s not very effective as “travel”, but I took a 14 day cruise to London and loved it. The 14 hour flight back was horrid.

          If you haven’t been on a cruise, it’s like camping (isolated) with great staff. Highly recommend it.

          • I have nightmares about cruises. I’ve read way too much about it.

            • “The Poseidon Adventure.” It hasn’t really happened yet, but it came darned close to happening to the Queen Elizabeth 2. September 11 1995, it was hit by a thirty meter rogue wave, the front nearly vertical. Can’t find the photo of damage that was on line previously, there may be a copyright issue.

        • 1,000 miles is one long day, driving also. Been there, done that. 1700 miles, more or less, my house in CNY to son’s in Colorado Springs. One night in a hotel either way. Only because my wife doesn’t like to drive at night.

          • When I traveled to New York State from Utah as a single student, it took my parents and I two days (including a brief stop off the side of the road to sleep) to drive the route. We did this is a 1984 Toyota Camry with a full trunk, a passenger seat filled with stuff, and a tailgate thingy with a foam mattress strapped to it.

            When my wife, her brother, our two daughters and I drove back to Utah a few years later, we were driving back in a Chevy Venture with a UHaul trailer that contained all the stuff we hadn’t sold. We could only go 55 MPH (any faster and the trailer wobbled — come to think of it, that may have been a sign that we had too much weight on the back of the trailer — or it may have just been a sign that the trailer was full) and we stopped at a hotel for every night. It took us five days to make the trip.

            It wouldn’t have been practical, given these circumstances, to fly either way, but even so, there are circumstances where two to five days of travel isn’t just practical either. (And sometimes you have to take into account health and little kids — a trip that a healthy 20-year-old can make in a day may take two or more for someone in other circumstances…)

      • My father lived in Alabama. I live in New Hampshire. It has ALWAYS been worth my while to drive rather than fly; even when he was dying. TSA is security theater at best, and a tyrannical abusive abomination in any other respect.

        • Same here. Family in Alabama, while we currently reside in Pennsylvania. My wife and I made the decision we’d rather drive than fly, and that’s the plan for as long as we’re physically able. If we have to fly we’ll do it, but it’s currently a last resort option.

        • We are in Oregon, and I’ve got family scattered all over the place — daughter and one granddaughter in New Hampshire, daughter and other three grandchildren in Ohio, brother and nephews in Michigan, sister and nieces in Wyoming, brother migrating seasonally between Alaska and Arizona. We flew to Ohio in December for Cedar’s college graduation only because it’s a really bad time of year to be driving most of the way across the country (we’ve done that before); it was miserable and I don’t plan to fly again unless there’s a life or death emergency. In a few weeks we will be driving across country for the HS graduation of the granddaughter who is still in New Hampshire — there is no way I’m going to fly for this trip, even with it being a week’s travel each way when we drive.

          IMO, if the airlines keep making it more miserable to fly, eventually people will stop using them. They may do what they need to over the internet; they may drive; they may use private or chartered planes; there may be other alternatives. But they aren’t going to keep the airlines in business if the airlines continue to abuse their passengers.

          • That time of year, the trip should be quite nice. Actually, it was quite nice coming the other way, even in October some years ago. (Except, for some weird reason, a strong north wind that began at the eastern border of Ohio – and quit right at the western border. Most exhausting driving day of my life as we went through the cuts…)

            So one brother is a “snowbird?” I may have seen him around here, if he drives an Alaska tagged car. More and more of those these days running around Tucson. (Pity, that – I somehow always got the highway bingo card that had “Alaska” right in the center when we were going back and forth to New Mexico in the 1960s. My sister was a sneaky one…)

            • I’d say we probably have seen him; Tucson is the world’s largest small town. Unless of course he spends his winters in Phoenix for some strange reason.

              • Now, now – Phoenix isn’t all that bad in the winter. (So long as you don’t have to go anywhere on the freeways…)

                • Part of the problem is Phoenicians think the state, if not the world, revolves around their city.

                  • Yup. If they didn’t have to slap down some of our idiot politicos every so often, they’d completely ignore us.

                    Which might not be a bad thing. I’d be okay with still sending them my money, so long as they used it for social experimentation only on their own people.

    • Yeah, had major problems with the metal detector in San Jose, CA airport in 1974. IIRC, after I shed the belt, I passed. I believe this was before the wand.

    • one of the prime examples used to justify the TSA taking over security of flights was the contractors used at New Orleans Intl. They twice allowed guns onto flights (one after 9/11 but before the TSA full change) and constantly failed tests (fake bombs, guns, knives etc).
      So, when the TSA took over, who do you think got all those nice new Gov’t jobs? Why yes, the people working for the contractors were those chosen. All that prior experience, don’tchyaknow. The difference was they were now paid more,had new uniforms, and got more petty power to be pig ignorant.

      • And they *still* fail the those same fake bomb/gun/knife tests!

        I’m not at all convinced that banning these things makes our flights safer. Not because I think armed citizens are guaranteed to stop anyone if some terrorist pulled out a weapon — there are situations where you really can’t stop a terrorist anyway, or if you *can* stop him, you don’t necessarily need a weapon — but because I doubt that security, TSA or otherwise, really keep all that much off of airplanes anyway, whether the person is a terrorist, a gang member, or merely a clueless person who forgot that he was legally carrying a gun concealed.

        And if you accidentally find yourself in the latter category, the *last* thing you want to do is go up to Security and explain what you did. You’re then treated as a criminal, because as we all know, terrorists are just *itching* to tell Security they accidentally carried a gun with them through the metal detection and pat-down system. It’s the best way to get a gun on the plane, after all!

        I recently read a story about someone who found a .40 S&W bullet in his pocket, just about when he was going through the x-ray machine. It was too late to back out, so he just cupped it in his hand and pointed to an empty pocket tray, and said “I found this in that tray over there.” As he walked away, he enjoyed the chaos as TSA agents scrambled to figure out what to do.

        I can’t help but wonder how many stupid mistakes like this, with honest people resorting to tricks to keep from being retained for questioning, are causing hold-ups in the security theater….

        • an uncle of mine retired from the TSA. he has low opinion of most of the people running things there.
          and those working for the TSA.
          Got a call from his boss:
          “Tell me you passed a test today . . . please”
          he had fake dynamite in a carry-on that glared out on X-Ray.
          EVERY other location that boss was over failed ALL the tests.

          • I think we’re too quick to blame the TSA agents for letting things through, though, when we’re asking humans to do something that they in all probability simply cannot do: namely, look over thousands of bags each day, each with a dozen or so items, many of which undoubtedly look like weapons — and worse, many of which are merely household items that higher-ups have deemed to be weapons (because every moment looking for a bottle of lotion or pocket knife or a nail file on nail clippers is a moment that they aren’t looking for dynamite or guns or knives) , and to do this for an entire day without eyes glazing over after the first hour due to boredom.

            It’s likely that the amazing thing isn’t that the TSA fails so many of these tests; the amazing thing is that TSA agents pass any tests *at all*.

            Overall, this gives me the impression that anyone determined to get a knife or a gun on a plane would be able to do so, and it also gives me the impression that if we removed all the x-rays, the pat-downs, and all the metal detectors, it’s very likely no one will notice anything different, beyond the bottleneck of people trying to get through security that’s oh-so susceptible to suicide bombing.

            • Oh, look, my computer has decided to let me know about replies again ***grumbles*** WPDE or PCDE?
              Anyhow
              Most of the time it isn’t eyes glazed causing the miss, it is people just not doing their job at all. In the tests, as in the two actual incidents I knew of, the weapons stand out like a beacon. (the baggage x-rays are recorded)
              These are not cases of “Hey, could that blob be some kinda weapon?” it was “Hey, that there is a derringer in .45ACP!”
              in the instance of said derringer, the external cameras also got a great view of the screen showing the gun . . . and the sleeping agent.
              The TSA run gun pass through, the agent was just not concerned with watching the screen and only looked at a few bags every so often . . . something he was noted for before, when working for the contractor company . . . the difference being the private contract employee lost her job, the TSA agent got more training, and was also on hand for failing a test (and got re-re-trained). The testing is to see who is paying attention, not in ways to hide weaponry and bombs, and yeah, we mostly hear about the failures, but now the failures have little consequence for the agent failing, and it costs us tons more money and time.
              Best thing too is in these cases of mistakenly bringing weapons (or Milady Sarah’s too much liquids if she let them officially know) is the people the Feds really want to punish are the people letting them know there was a failure. The man with the derringer gave his briefcase to a stew to be put in the cockpit and then told her quietly why. He said, pre-9/11 he’d have just shrugged it off and said nothing. The other guy was a guard of some sort, and got to his destination and off the airport grounds before noticing one of his duty guns was in his carry-on.
              The only thing worse than evil intent is showing your ‘betters’ are incompetent buffoons.

        • People are still occasionally accidentally going trough with REAL guns and knives.

  10. Maybe there’s a chink in the armor of the US airline/make-work security theater industry, but I am skeptical it’ll be enough to bring them down any time soon. People just keep freaking lining up to be mistreated.

    This happened to a friend of a friend, here in Atlanta:

    “We had already been through boarding pass checks, passport checks, scanners, and pat downs. At the gate, each passenger had already had their tickets scanned and we were all walking on the jet bridge to board. It’s at this point that most people assume that it is all done: finally we can enjoy some sense of normalcy.

    “This time was different. Halfway down the jetbridge, there was a new layer of security. Two US Marshals, heavily armed and dressed in dystopian-style black regalia, stood next to an upright machine with a glowing green eye. Every passenger, one by one, was told to step on a mat and look into the green scanner. It was scanning our eyes and matching that scan with the passport, which was also scanned (yet again).”

    Granted the United incident has since occurred, but I believe the forces keeping this invasive maltreatment in place – doubling down on it, even, with iris scanning – are hella powerful & won’t cave soon or easily. Hope I am completely wrong about this and the market wins.

    • I’m not kidding nor exaggerating when I say: this submission to arbitrary and pointless authority is what we learn in school. Lines, bells, segregation by age (not by what you already know or need to learn). We have to ask to use the bathroom, we can’t talk to the person next to us, we aren’t excused even if we already know how to read and how to balance a checkbook.

      The greatest triumph of modern education is that few can even imagine doing it any other way – even though this it was never done that way prior to about 200 years ago, and every well-educated historical figure got educated without it.

      TSA is just another test to make sure we learned the lesson: our betters will tell us when and where to stand, sit, move, and what we are allowed to do. Sending the TSA back to whatever hell it came from can only work if we get rid of modern schools first.

      • The similarities between modern schools and prisons are remarkable. Go where you’re told, when you’re told and do what you’re told and don’t ask questions. You’ll get out when you’ve served your time.

        • Yep – and if you’re good enough, they hand out certificates and pat you on the head – and send you to college for *more* of the same, except they’ve got your mind, so they can, like Big Brother releasing Winston Smith, let you wander around a bit.

          I imagine a lot of us here got through it basically on auto-pilot (I know I did), doing whatever minimum would keep them off your back. They’re tightening way down n that these days, it seems.

          • Some of us are inoculated against the conditioning by Oddness. We-can’t- fit in on account of because we’re weird. We suffer in schools. We are the canaries in the coal mine of life.

            Some weird guy got tasered to death at a Canadian airport by the RCMP a few years ago. Unarmed, and detained in a locked room too. Turned out he just needed an interpreter. Oops.

        • The storm fences, razor wire, metal detectors, armed guards, and dress code tend to reinforce that similarity quite a bit…

          For a lot of people, going from Student ARPC28181-011 to Inmate VU3224352 is a very small step.

          Except I suspect the prisoners get a little more respect and better overall conditions…

  11. Aimee Morgan

    The scariest part of this whole thing is being “voluntold” to give up your seat. Especially when the passengers have already been boarded. Between this and some of the other stories I’ve heard, I’m starting to wish the Feds would spend enough money on Amtrack to make it a viable alternative to flying.

    • Yeah… no. I’m thinking that would just create the same problems, different venue. To be workable Amtrak needs to be run more efficiently not less.

      • for instance- did you know you can’t take a train from Montgomery, AL to L.A? You have to take one of their admittedly nicer than Greyhound coaches to Nawlins first.

        • I took a Megabus from Knoxville to D.C. a couple of years ago. I’d do it again long before flying–considering airport requirements to be there hours early and then baggage claim after landing (along with all the other inconveniences and delays), it wasn’t appreciably slower than an airline flight, and was guaranteed more comfortable. Unless you’re traveling quite long distances, it’s worth checking out (and its competitors in the long-distance express bus business).

          • I don’t know—the times I’ve taken it have been long-distance (Sacramento to Eugene and Sacramento to Denver) and I prefer that to flying. Mind you, you need to take good food and a foam mattress along, but the seats are big and recline nicely, you have tons of luggage space, and you can stand up and walk around all the time. Plus the scenery is nice on the lines I mentioned.

          • And you can choose to get off the bus at anytime during the trip; although they don’t like doing that.

          • Back in the day, I took the bus (Trailways, I think) from Dayton to Knoxville to see relatives. Took a bit longer than the 6 hours a trip down I-75 usually took by car, but the scenery was nice. Plus I didn’t have to stay awake/alert the whole trip.

        • Out of curiosity, I decided to see if Amtrak would work for our upcoming trip East. We would have had to take a bus four different times just on the trip East. Not counting the return trip. Not worth the bother, especially as I need to take a couple of dogs with us. We’ll be driving.

          • not surprised, it looks like all of their trains are scenic passenger route trains now and now meant to actually move people.

      • Ah, Amtrak. I remember taking Amtrak. I remember 12 hours of sitting in the middle of snow-covered harvested cornfields, wondering if I hopped off the train and hitchhiked, would I get there faster. And then we started again. And then we stopped again, for another couple hours. What was back then a 12-hour car trip (these new modern interstates with their 4 lanes and straight sections are awesome) took only 3 days to cover by train…

        There’d have to be a whole lot of removal of governmental meddling to make Amtrak competitive; they’ve had longer to add regulations onto trains than planes, and less incentive to remove them…

        • Terry Sanders

          Simpler than that. Amtrak exists because the *railroads didn’t really want us any more. You sat forever because the freight trains have priority. They make the raiilroad money.

          • and different freight trains get different priority. Ask a farmer about getting grain transported when there are oil cars that need to move as well.

    • I read a well written article that argued that in order to bring Amtrak’s performance up to mediocrity, the government would almost have to interfere wit the freight train system, which is apparently doing quite well, and one of the better such in the world.

      So, no, I’d rather not see Amtrak upgraded.

      • The entire US (and Canadian) rail system is optimized for freight trains. To bring the whole network up to high speed passenger travel would involve a HUGE expenditure of money, with a LOT more maintenance crews to keep the tracks straight. Plus it would really screw up the US logistics system and cause the price of goods to go up even more, because we all know just how efficient the government is in running things……

        • High speed passenger rail would entail essentially razing entire neighborhoods to reduce curves and people tend to be prickly about such razing.

          Oddly, not so much the people living in those neighborhoods, who would happily accept any reasonable buy-out …

          I keep reading about government eagerness to build light rail systems but every time I read into greater depth it seems they plan on using steel rails.

        • High speed rail is a failure of imagination. As said, U.S. rail is optimized for freight, and moves a lot of freight. Percentagewise, a lot more then any other country in the world. Fright and passenger don’t intermix well. Back in the olden days, when rail first started, it made sense to intermix freight and passengers on the same line. Doesn’t anymore. Amtrak is the only reason intercity rail exits. The railroads themselves wanted to abandon all passenger traffic as it became a money losing operation and interfered with money making fright.

          New rail is horrendously expensive. If you want to move large numbers of people on a fixed route the alternative to rail is monorail. Has been for quite a while. It could be suspended over existing interstate OR rail right of ways for much less then finding new right of ways and laying down track or upgrading old track to serve both passenger and freight. There are competing rail systems, with pros and cons to each. The BOSWASH corridor is the most heavily travelled airline and rail route. Subject to weather delays all the time. If I were making the choice- I’d build a SAFEGE system or variation monorail along the corridor. Drive wheels and power source completely enclosed, snow, fog, whatever, won’t interfere with operation. Basic trouble with selling monorails: Even today, the technology is considered new and unproven. Even though it isn’t either.

      • Three types of train service: passenger, commuter, and freight. Each of the three is in competition for the same trackage as each use said tracks differently. Freight moves goods from hub to hub as quickly and efficiently as possible with a distribution system, usually trucks, to handle delivery to the final destination. Passenger service is similar, but as you’re dealing with people you have to accommodate their in transit needs such as eating, sleeping, and potty. And commuter is lots of slow moving cars with many stops all destined for a central hub.

        • It’s easy to make a train or a bus that can go fast. But then you have to get people on the things; stopping and starting up again every time you get to a spot where someone wants to get on or off, is time that can’t be used for travelling.

          This is one of the factors that drives me nuts about travelling by bus. I sometimes have to wait for fifteen minutes to an hour for one, and when I finally get one, it takes an hour to go down a route that would have taken fifteen minutes by car, and if I have to transfer to another bus, I get to start the process over again.

          • The British motor coach system had a bit of a kerfuffle a few decades back over a bus driver who refused to pick up passengers. His defense was that he could either hit his route’s stop points according to schedule or he could pick up and discharge passengers, but he could not accomplish both.

      • There was an article in Oregon talking about the Coast Star-LATE line, and how they could actually improve its service with a comparatively minimal effort. The problem is that there are very few bypass lines, so the Starlight has to wait for very long times for freight to clear the line. If they built a few more of those side track bypasses, the article argued, they could increase the reliability of the passenger service for a fraction of the cost of building a new rail line.

    • That’s because “boarded” doesn’t mean what you think it means. To the layperson, “boarded” means “I got on the airplane and sat down.”

      To the industry, “boarded is specifically defined as “the cabin door is closed and the airplane is pushed back from the gate.” If both those conditions are not met, the plane is still accessible from the terminal, and therefore boarding is not complete.

      This, by the way, is why you get pushed back and then left to sit on the ramp for hours – because one boarding has occurred, the plane “has left.” So even if you sit on the ramp for two hours, your flight “left on time.”

      And now you know.

      • And that’s why I’d love to have real information as to “wheels left the ground” time and “passengers disembarked” time as actual departure/arrival times rather than statistical quackery.

      • And knowing is half the battle. . .

      • Great Britain’s National Health Care system is notorious for statistical manipulations like this. They won’t answer phone calls because they know the moment they answer, they have to get the person in for treatment in X hours; they let ambulances sit outside because as soon as they are admitted, the countdown for “hours before treatment” start. A baby isn’t considered born unless they have lived for a day (in contrast to the United States, where a baby is born if they have taken a breath, and stillborn otherwise, and since we save 20-week-old babies, we’re going to count them in infant mortality rates, darn it! despite their low chances of survival.)

        Even our own VA hospital system has played this game.

        To be sure, they are fooling people for a little while, but over time, people figure out what’s going on, and aren’t fooled anymore. When you try to use such statistics to convince everyone that things are going all right, all you are doing is making the people you’re trying to convince angry.

    • “The scariest part of this whole thing is being “voluntold” to give up your seat.”

      No Aimee, the scariest part of this is they beat the shit out of this guy just because they could, and a whole f-ing airplane full of Americans LET THEM DO IT.

      That is f-ing terrifying.

      • Note that these folks were “voluntold” to Exit The Aircraft Making No Sudden Moves in order to provide seats for United employees on company travel who were not properly allocated seats by United.

        That’s the part that is most egregious to me – the plane wasn’t oversold, it was administratively overbooked. By United.

        A completely internal unforced error clusterbleep.

        • I’m kind of stuck on the beating part, Mike.

          I expect companies to drop the ball, I expect stewardesses to be chicken-brained harpies, and I expect cops to be a-holes. All that is SOP for airports. I’ve seen all that often enough, after all.

          I do not expect some NORMAL GUY, a doctor for f- sakes, to get beaten like that for being non-violently uncooperative. I’m not willing to put up with that.

          • a doctor for f- sakes

            I am not sure being a doctor entitles one to special consideration. If he was a neurologist or cardiac surgeon, maybe, but what if he were a plastic surgeon (botoxologist?) or proctologist?

            Is there available somewhere a ranking by profession so that we might keep track of who deserves our respect?

            Sigh – I’ve this sudden urge to watch John Wayne’s Stagecoach.

            • “Is there available somewhere a ranking by profession so that we might keep track of who deserves our respect?”

              Dude, really? The point being made is he’s a respectable guy, with a job and money, and very clearly not some random nutjob stinking of pee and sterno.

              Cops have graduated from rolling annoying winos to rolling annoying members of the moneyed class. That’s not good.

              How polite do you want to have to be to surly government officials? If you’re not careful, you’ll be paying baksheesh to avoid getting beat up and tossed out of the airport. That’s how its done in the third world.

              • clark e myers

                Chicago pretty much sets a model for the third world in kleptocracy and mordida. Notice too that although much of Chicago is an armed society Chicago streets are not thus made more polite. There’s an editorial in the Denver paper saying it’s the Chicago way not necessarily the United way. United ground employees are said to be much nicer in Denver and other places. United is an important carrier in both Chicago and Denver.

                major airports where United accounts for more than 10 percent of total passenger traffic:

                Houston — 51.54 percent
                Newark — 50.49 percent
                Washington Dulles — 43.25 percent
                San Francisco — 37.96 percent
                Chicago O’Hare — 30.87 percent
                Denver — 28.72 percent
                Los Angeles — 14.88 percent
                Boston — 12.28 percent
                San Diego — 11.95 percent
                Orlando — 10.26 percent
                Portland — 10.15 percent

                I’d drive more if I had a raised roof van conversion with Captain’s chairs. A short bed 4X4 sometimes leaves me wondering if driving the median would be a softer ride. Then again driving in Chicago I had the experience of sitting still while the car in front backed into me. The responding City of Chicago police officer under color of authority solicited a bribe by assuring me that he would otherwise write me for wanton and reckless, excessive speed, following too closely, major property damage and a few things more. This would total enough to ensure my being held lost in the system for a few days. Much like other parts of the third world where travelers are held for ransom. Witnesses did assure him that would be unwise given their eventual court testimony and he somewhat sheepishly said well O.K. then.

                • Have had the misfortune of driving in Chicago, I have wondered what did Dan Ryan do that made them dishonor him so with that alleged street/road that is really a linear parking lot.

                • Kleptocracy is why Russia leads the world in youtube dashcam videos. From your story, looks like they are a now a necessity in Chicago.

                  My daughter at the ripe old age of 18 was t-boned by a 55 year old who swore she ran a red light. 18 year old vs 55 year old experienced driver would not go well in court. But the 8 witnesses who told the responding police he ran the red light resulted in him getting a ticket. Having witnesses in the right place at the right time is always a fortuitous experience.

              • Cops have graduated from rolling annoying winos to rolling annoying members of the moneyed class. That’s not good.

                …. I’m pretty dang sure you don’t actually mean that the way it reads– because it reads like justification for RES’ sally. Where do veteran housewives fall on this scale of acceptability for what one believes to be unjustified violence?

                • “Where do veteran housewives fall on this scale of acceptability for what one believes to be unjustified violence?”

                  I sometimes marvel at how badly I am understood by others, even in writing. Must be the Oddness.

                  Again, there is no “scale.” This is not about you. This is about the new boldness of government employees harboring ill intent.

                  Cops roll winos because they can. Nobody will make a fuss if the annoying wino ‘falls down the stairs’ five or six times while they move him along. Winos are powerless. Cops beat the hell out of them all the time.

                  But now, some cops think nobody will make a fuss if they beat up people with money and some power to them, like doctors. People who can afford lawyers. People who used to be not safe for cops to beat up.

                  There used to be consequences for beating up a respectable member of society over nothing, and now there are none. The cops in this case think they can beat up -anybody- from a veteran housewife to a member of Congress or a holder of the Medal of Honor. They think they are untouchable.

                  If the cops can randomly single out and beat the crap out of a well-off, properly dressed older man with a professional accreditation, and it seems they can, then the USA has shifted from a free country to a police state and y’all didn’t notice. Americans are ALL winos now.

                  • Maybe you’re the one misunderstanding, because this third round is just re-enforcing the original issue, and complaining about who is considered an acceptable target right now.

                    Also, FFS, this guy wasn’t randomly singled out and have a little respect for how dire a police state is, would you? Just like someone can be objectionable without being a Nazi, a rule-enforcer can behave objectionably without it being a police state. For starters, you wouldn’t be able to declare it a police state if it actually was…..

                    • “Also, FFS, this guy wasn’t randomly singled out and have a little respect for how dire a police state is, would you?”

                      He was randomly selected, according to United. The computer randomly picked four people to bounce. His number came up. He passively refused to cooperate, according to the story anyway, and they kicked his ass. I’m not reading anywhere the cops are getting fired for this, nor their supervisor, nor the aircrew, etc. They’re most likely all going to skate.

                      Police states start slow and get worse, until there’s a landslide of ugly and people die. They just keep tightening the screws, a little at a time, until they have 100% control. Then they go nuts.

                      Today, airport security. Tomorrow, train security. TSA is busily trying to extend their reach to bus and train stations, the Superbowl, the NYC subway, San Francisco’s BART and so forth. Given an absence of loud objection, they will succeed. After that, highways and the internet.

                      That’s how Adolph did it. He and his boys were a pack of morons with magical thinking, they managed quite nicely despite their shortcomings.

                      “because this third round is just re-enforcing the original issue, and complaining about who is considered an acceptable target right now.”

                      No, for the third (and final) time, I am not ‘complaining’ about who is an acceptable target. There are no acceptable targets. I didn’t think it would be necessary to say this explicitly, but to be crystal clear: NO. winos and other street people are not acceptable targets for police violence. Obviously.

                      What I said is that they are EASY targets. What has changed in America is that unlike before, now a rich and successful man is also an EASY target. Pretty soon, you don’t do something about it, everybody will be an easy target all the time. That’s how you get from Chicago-bad to Venezuela-bad.

                      I’m a Canadian. We all found out exactly what rights we have back in the 1970s. Which is to say, none. Being left alone to pursue your business is a -privilege- here. It helps a lot to be politically hooked up in this country. With the right friends, you can use your car to kill a cyclist and get away with it. With no friends, you can get tasered to death in a locked room.

                    • You might want to review the literature on Slippery Slope arguments.

                    • He was randomly selected, according to United.

                      Who is, like, totally the police, maaaaaan. Being randomly selected to be bumped, in accordance with the freely entered contract that he bought into, is absolutely the same as a police state where someone can be randomly selected for a beating.

                      At least you put that right at the front of the response, to make it clear it’s not worth reading any further.

                  • I think it was yesterday that I read on Instapundit about a Jamaican immigrant mechanic who was beat up by a police officer. The Jamaican did nothing to resist, and was asking what he was doing wrong the whole time.

                    He managed to get a court to revoke Qualified Immunity for the police officer, which is a little unusual, because the lawyers didn’t even use precedent to do it (which is the usual often unattainable standard the Court insists on).

                    So, yes, it isn’t just doctors who are getting beat up. Cops are beating up respectable citizens, and they think they can get away with it. I don’t know how far they *can* get away with it, but to the extent that they can, we will drift into a police state of some sort, so it’s important to figure out how to prevent police from getting away with it.

                    As Glenn Reynolds pointed out, “qualified immunity” is something carved out by the Courts, made up for their convenience. There’s no basis for it in either the Constitution or laws passed by Congress. We ought to remove it altogether, or at least strictly limit it. I understand why the Courts find it desirable, but it means that prosecutors and police can also get away with all sorts of abuse, and I’m not convinced that we need to, or even ought to, put up with such abuse in order to have a civil society. Such abuse is certainly harmful to a free society!

                    • This stuff happens all the time.

                      Where I live in Ontario, it used to happen weekly down the road in Caledonia. The police were actively assaulting townspeople for defending themselves and their property from militant “demonstrators”, and it went on for -years-. People got beaten nearly to death, couple guys got shot by criminals and died, people got arrested (while being videoed doing nothing) and punched out by the cops, all kinds of stuff.

                      There’s plenty of video and print evidence from 2006 on-line, and two or three court cases that found the OPP guilty of not only negligence but deliberate malfeasance.

                      Because, in the final analysis, policemen follow orders or they quit. Good men quit the OPP over Caledonia. Dumbasses and dirtbags enjoyed themselves and stayed in. They’re still working.

                      That was 2006. In 2017 what changed? The demonstrators got bored and went on to other things, there’s a 100 acre no-mans-land next to the Canadian Tire in Caledonia, and the Liberal Party of Ontario is still in power. Nothing changed, except now nobody trusts the OPP.

                      When the populace does not trust the police force and holds them in contempt, society is damaged.

              • The point being made is he’s a respectable guy, …


                Being a doctor does not necessarily equate to being respectable. Dr. Kevorkian, Dr. Lysenko, Dr. Mengele, Dr. Gosnell and other stand in refutation of that thesis.

                • Respectable or not, there was NO valid reason to treat him like a member of ISIS. Period.

                  • Any cop who doesn’t know how to apply a “come-along” hold is not worthy of his baton.

                    As Foxfier noted, the point of my remark was that respectability ought have nothing to do with it. He deserves respect because he is a human being, not because he is any particular class of human being. Heck, not even Bill Ayers deserves to be hauled off a plane that way! (okay, Ayers deserves to be hauled out of any conveyance, restaurant, pub, or other public venue — but not for refusing to give up his seat.)

                    • “He deserves respect because he is a human being, not because he is any particular class of human being.”

                      Obviously.

                      Just as obviously, that is not the way -cops- operate. Historically, police procedure became more and more polite and restrained as the class of the person they were dealing with climbed the scale. Winos got beaten, upper class businessmen were given the kid-glove treatment.

                      What has changed is the cops are no longer afraid to beat the rich guy if they feel like it.

                      Am I making myself understood now?

                    • Am I making myself understood now?

                      Yes – you think of people in terms of membership in classes, with special hostility toward those who take on the duty of enforcing our laws.

                    • “Yes – you think of people in terms of membership in classes, with special hostility toward those who take on the duty of enforcing our laws.”

                      Okay, you just crossed over from reading impaired to deliberately obtuse. Clearly that’s not what is being said here. Give your head a shake.

                    • RES, I think you’re missing the point that thephantom182 is trying to make: that, rightly or wrongly (and mostly wrongly), the police have a tendency to treat people differently if they think that a person is “lower class”…and that treatment is creeping up to people they are likely to think are “higher class”.

                      Perhaps he’s wrong, but considering that one of Sarah’s sons wears a suit and tie to make sure he’s not a thug, I don’t necessarily think he is.

                      While thephantom182 hasn’t said so explicitly, I personally get the vibe that he isn’t happy with cops treating *anyone* as a thug. One can argue, though, that there might be a little bit of inevitability to it, because dealing with lowlife thugs can push one to thuggish behavior. I knew a Latter-day Saint, for example, who worked as a prison guard for a while. He found quickly that if you asked an inmate politely “Will you please sit down?” the inmate wouldn’t respond, but he *would* respond to the same request colored with a few swear words.

                      I don’t know what to do about it, except to hope that the default would be for police to assume you respond to politeness until you demonstrate that you won’t, or alternatively, to make sure you’re clearly a member of polite society, and hope that the police officer takes that into account.

                  • In self defense cases, the person claiming self defense cannot claim “the person was an expert in martial arts” or “he was a thug criminal pimp from down the street” or some other character issue UNLESS those things can be shown to the jury that the person knew these beforehand. Sometimes such things can be inferred by immediate action (the guy displayed martial arts hurting a friend, for example), but overall, if the person didn’t know, about it at the time he doesn’t get to use the other person’s background to justify his self defense.

                    That standard should be applied here. The police shouldn’t necessary trust that the guy was really a doctor, but they don’t get to treat him like trash, either, and then say “Well, he deserved it! The Press uncovered stuff that shows he’s trash!”

                    And even the guy I shot was a thug criminal pimp, and I knew he was a thug criminal pimp, I don’t get to claim self defense by saying “The guy was a thug criminal pimp! Why *shouldn’t* I shoot him?” The guy has to make it clear that the pimp was out to kill me, and thus it was reasonable for me to shoot him.

                • You know, your doctor-hate thing is pretty far off topic at this point.

                  Let me try to penetrate the red haze one more time. Substitute the word “doctor” with “rich guy,” if it makes you feel better.

                  Cops didn’t used to take their nightsticks to rich guys whenever they felt like it. It didn’t use to be safe for cops to do that. They would have Bad Things happen to them. Rich guys have lawyers and friends in high places.

                  But now, the cops feel safe beating and dragging a rich guy as if he was a crusty wino. That is a fundamental change in cop behavior.

                  • Hey, you’re the one demanding special courtesies for doctors. I merely pointed out that being a doctor no more entitles a person to being treated well than being a representative of any other trade.

                    I even argued winos (as a class; exceptions for individuals may be made) did not merit being singled out for persecution.

                    Heck, I don’t think even software engineers deserve class-based opprobrium. In an ideal society all head-bashing is retail, never wholesale.

                    • “Hey, you’re the one demanding special courtesies for doctors.”

                      That is a deliberate misrepresentation of what I’ve said. At no point have I said or implied that doctors -should- receive special treatment.

                      “I merely pointed out that being a doctor no more entitles a person to being treated well than being a representative of any other trade.”

                      Yes, that is true. Doctors are not entitled to special treatment.

                      “I even argued winos (as a class; exceptions for individuals may be made) did not merit being singled out for persecution.”

                      Yes, that is true. Winos do not merit persecution any more than doctors merit special treatment.

                      BUT COPS DO NOT ACT THAT WAY. They should, but they don’t, and they never have. And they are getting worse.

                      Are we clear now? I can use smaller words, if you want.

                    • My apologies. I ought have phrased my response as “You’re the one whose autonomous nervous system cannot detect when his leg is being pulled.”

            • The proctologist would not have had a problem. He’d be used to dealing with… [United].

              • Bless you, Ox. I sometimes despair of some of those little weeds I plant taking root, even if all it wants is some kind entity to drop a bit of fertilizer over it.

      • No Aimee, the scariest part of this is they beat the shit out of this guy just because they could, and a whole f-ing airplane full of Americans LET THEM DO IT.

        Doesn’t that suggest that maybe there was something else going on? Perhaps some action by the guy who got beat up which changed what they, having more complete information, not reach the same conclusion you do?

        We stopped flying voluntarily years ago– even before kids, I was always “randomly selected” unless I was mistaken for an armed officer, and more than once had to explain the law that when traveling on orders, they couldn’t randomly select me– but you don’t have to think that United did a right, good or intelligent thing to think there may be more to it. I’ve seen at least one report of highly questionable behavior that would have triggered any normal security, no airline related stuff required.

        Might search that sort of stuff out before bemoaning the fate of the country due to inaction by a group of Americans, especially given the really cruddy record on accuracy the last who-knows-how-many times the news did the “lily pure victim mauled in front of passive crowd” stories?

        • I understand the temptation to think that, but no. In fact the whole plane is solidly on the beaten guy’s side. And in fact they’re all getting “compensation” for distress.
          The reason they let them do it: they were wedged in. Also, if they attacked airport security they could and WOULD be arrested as terrorists.
          Sometimes the victim is just the victim. Thinking “he must have done something to deserve it is “comforting” and enabled things like Holodomor and Stalin’s purges, and the Cultural revolution. It’s a dangerous frame of mind. Get off it now.

          • Except I didn’t say that he did something to deserve it. (Justify it, or explain it, but deserve it would make it the right thing, which I specifically pointed out wasn’t needed.)

            I said that just maybe, before declaring the scariest thing to be the people with first-hand information not behaving as someone with third or further hand information thinks they should, it should be considered that they had first hand information.

            The compensation aspect doesn’t mean much– for starters, how much do you want to bet it comes with hooks about not going to the media or similar? I wouldn’t take it, even betting beans to donuts!*

            * have you priced donuts lately? Or beans? Dimes to donuts is backwards from the original….

  12. Entitled? Yes, I certainly am entitled to services I have already paid for.

    I’ve only flown once (well, twice since we had to come back). That experience wasn’t too bad. But having dealt with airline employees when we were trying to pick up an unaccompanied minor I can tell you airline customer services sucks donkey balls. (gate employee ran screaming into a corner that she ‘didn’t feel safe’ when I said I can wait for her to finish what she’s doing so I can ask a question. That question being if the plane our 11 year old niece was on was actually at this gate, since the listed gate was changed twice already and the board said the plane arrived 15 minutes prior, but no one was coming out.)

    At this point, I have no sympathy for the airlines. If they go under, so be it. But honestly, unless I have to fly across the ocean or be somewhere ‘today’ I’ll be driving myself. It may take longer and cost me a little more, but at least I’ll be in charge of my own safety.

    • Same here. Either driving ourselves … or if to the west coast to visit family, on Amtrak. My daughter took Amtrak this spring and had a wonderful time, even though she had to take the equivalent of “coach”. Seat was comfortable, the car was not crowded, the other travelers were friendly and the train staff was cordial and professional. A round trip ticket was cheaper than a round-trip flight. It took about as long as it would have to drive – but much more relaxing.
      We’ll go by train, when it becomes necessary to travel out to CA from Texas again.

      • About the worst part of a train trip, IMO, is the food. But they let you pack in a cooler if you’re so inclined, so this is not an insurmountable challenge. (I tend to pack mini-coolers in a bag full of non-perishables, so I can stick it in the overhead easily.)

        • Yeah, and when was the last time you were allowed to pack a cooler to go on a flight? Yeah, pre-9/11.

        • In these parts, the worst part of a train trip is the three-hour Greyhound ride that you have to take to get to the nearest train station. This in a city of 1.3 million people. And once you get to the station, there are two eastbound trains and two westbound trains per week.

          Amtrak? You should fall on your knees and thank God that you have Amtrak. You could be stuck with Via Rail instead.

          • In case I wasn’t clear: I live in a city of 1.3 million which is three hours by bus from the nearest train station. There hasn’t been a passenger train through Calgary for about thirty years now.

            • Some years ago I was looking at a trip for two/three from $HOOTERVILLE to Vancouver. The car I had at the time wasn’t up to it (ancient, tiny, less than reliable, just barely powerful enough… for the plains). I looked at driving (out), flying (expensive), VIA (was surprised flying compared well to that!), and Amtrak. Went with Amtrak. Still a bit of driving since departure was in Grand Forks, ND but the trip went fairly well.

              • Amtrak works well for my family, but only because we live on the line. Parents live in Minot, in-laws in Rugby and we in Fargo. The most annoying part is the time. Arrival/departure in Fargo is 0300.

                • The Coast Starlight leaves Sacramento at midnight. Except, by intelligent design, the actual leave time is 11:59PM, so that you don’t get confused as to the proper date.

      • Mrs. Chronda and I once looked at Amtrak for a trip to visit my (now deceased) grandmother. The trains were more expensive than airplanes and did not go anywhere near where we needed to be. We wound up flying.

      • Really?

        A few years ago a friend took Amtrak from San Diego to Dallas. What took two or three days by car took five by Amtrak. Plus the 150+dB PA system was running all the time; the few times he called, he couldn’t shout loud enough to be heard over it.

        • Hmm … Daughter went from San Antonio to downtown LA – even got in an hour early. No delays, although we did hear the stories. It took about as long to ride the train as it would have to drive. She did say that during the hours of darkness, quiet was enforced, too.

        • Friend takes his annual vacation by getting a one-month Amtrak pass and going wherever he likes. Last time he mentioned the cost was some 10 years ago, but it was only $500 unlimited use for the month. Not so bad if you’re going where it is and aren’t in a hurry.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        My daughter and I took Amtrak from Charlotte to Seattle two summers ago and adored it. Room to walk and changes of scenery (I may be biased by having crossed the Mississippi right at sunset), non-hostile co-passengers, and customer service that tried to actually serve. Beat the hell out of flying if you have the time.

  13. > mid-range deafness

    Same here. Last year I spent more money than I could really afford for some hearing aids. The audiologist was great; technology has moved way past the “just make everything louder” primitive days. With the graphic equalizer function on his laptop, he programmed the aids to perfectly offset my hearing loss on each side, via Bluetooth yet.

    Aanndd… they’re much less useful than I thought they’d be. In fact, I don’t think I’ve taken them out of their container since February. Because while my hearing is definitely bad, the problem turned out to be that far too many people CAN’T SPEAK ENGLISH. What I was hearing as “muh fuh nuuhh guh” simply became “MUH FUH NUUHH GUH.”

    In their heads, they’re speaking proper grammatical English. “The words what are coming out of their mouth” are just grunts. They’d do better via interpretive farting and tap-dancing.

    Then came the further realization that *most* people have no idea what other people are saying. Once I started paying attention, it was astonishing how much “uh?”, “wut?”, “eh?”, and “wha’?” figure in normal conversation. Apparently most people just fill in the blanks with whatever seems reasonable in context instead of trying to make out specific words.

    No wonder so many people think texting gibberish to each other is superior to speech…

    • If you’re waiting for the colloquial version of any language to forsake filler noises, or to enunciate all words like someone making a formal speech, you are going to wait a few million years.

      And if you think English assumes a lot of context, wait till you listen to Japanese. Mentioning the subject at all often goes without saying. You should just know!

    • I’m about half deaf myself. Dead nerves, and amplification and frequency shifting don’t help. For mere survival I HAVE to fill in the blanks with whatever seems reasonable context. I only ask for repeats if I can’t hear enough, or if I get a mondegren out of the conversation that makes no sense like, “Reverend Luigi” instead of “Forever in blue jeans.”

  14. Just as a historical note, the practice of auctioning off the voluntary surrender of seats on overbooked flights is a relatively recent one. It was originally propounded by the late Julian Simon as an alternative to the system that was in force in my youth (60s and 70s), under which the airline would simply arbitrarily pick passengers to bump. The airlines resisted the idea for a long time, then, after some of them warmed up to it, they still had to get the CAB to agree to it. Of course much of that went away when the airlines were deregulated and the CAB was abolished during the Carter Administration, circa 1979.
    And before we start blaming deregulation for all the present ills, much of the problem we face today is caused by our success: I still remember when I was cleaning out my parents’ apartment in 1999, running across a file of their old travel arrangements, including all their correspondence with their travel agent (what’s a travel agent, I hear you cry?). Among others there were some ticket records from 1964, round trip JFK to London, for around $600 apiece. OK…so what? Well, that was the price of a round-trip to London in 1999 as well: but the overall price level had, in the intervening 35 years, gone up by a factor of 10X. In 1964, $600 was an enormous sum: in 1999, not so much.
    In truth, much of the problem is caused by allowing the big boys to reap the fruits of their incumbency, and by subsidizing them out of a faulty allegiance to the “too big to fail” concept. If a couple of these guys were allowed to go down for the dirt nap, sure…it would cause massive short-term disruption. But in the long and even medium-term, it would be salutary.

    • It used to be, (and I don’t know if it still is, but I think not) you could take your ticket to any -other- airline that was going where you were going and they would happily take it and seat you on their airplane.
      Used to do it all the time when my flight was late, or overbooked.

  15. WordPress delenda est. I posted like the second comment to this, but it seems to have been disappeared, even though if I try reposting it, it says “duplicate comment”…

    And here I thought I was getting in early enough that I could actually keep track of the conversation. *grumble*

  16. There is sound reason that I travel by surface, by private vehicle as much as possible now. The last aircraft I was in was (and is) privately owned. As things seem to be and likely to remain, the next one (assuming such) will also be. I do not mind flying. I’d love to ride in a turboprop for once (something always seems to prevent that) and I kinda wish the one time I was in an aerobatic rated open cockpit biplane that we’d done more than just quick once around the field. BUT… what commercial airports have become? LOATHE.

    And having worked at the post office and seen what the unions there did… well, I won’t really USPS very much when (yes, when) the crater gets recognized – unless there is a miraculous reform. I am not holding my breath.

  17. Christopher M. Chupik

    For one brief shining moment, America came together again in their disgust at United.

    United Airlines: Bringing people closer together.

    • LOL
      This is what United fails to get. They’ve ABUSED all of us at some point. So yeah, no breaks for them.

    • I have been wondering if United is in some sort of competition to see if they can alienate the entire US population. First there was the leggings incident, but there were a number of people still on their side after that (you accept a free ticket, you accept the conditions they put on it). Now there’s the “beat up the passenger” incident, but there are still a few people defending them (inconvenience a few people in Chicago or an entire plane in Louisville). It seems their next logical step is to start shooting passengers at random or something and say that it’s standard corporate policy.

      (Note, I’m kidding. I think. At least I hope.)

      • United Airlines, the one thing even liberals now hate worse than Donald Trump. At least for the next 9 days.

        • Not just liberals. There are plenty of conservatives and/or libertarians who would not be happy with this result – and therefore they’d hate UAL more than they hate Trump (especially given some of us don’t hate Trump).

      • their next logical step is to start shooting passengers at random
        Guess that would be cheaper than offering vouchers and hotel rooms

        • “A vic…passenger in business class wants to upgrade to first class.”

          “So? Sucks to be him.”

          “He’s willing to pay extra for the upgrade.”

          “So bump someone out of first, then.”

          “Nobody in first wants to give up their seat.”

          “So throw one off the airplane.”

          “We’re at 30,000 feet!”

          “And your problem is…?”

  18. i haven’t flown since 2003 because of illness. Being packed into a tin can is a sure fire way for me to be really really sick again. Anyway– if I ever HAVE to fly United is a “no fly” on my list.

    • Apparently my comment above was correct: United is still hard at work on their quest to make sure everyone hates them.

  19. About [He said I didn’t understand the trouble with trying to subdue a planeful of entitled and unruly people.]. You said you were concerned about the use of the term “entitled”. Personally, I am more concerned about the use of the term ” subdue”.

    • yes, that too, honestly. BUT I got pissed at the entitled. DAMN RIGHT I’m ENTITLED. I paid for it.

      • The “title” is “customer.” It is supposed to mean, when you pay the money, you get the service/product. It’s all but printed right on the bloody label!

        Customers get to choose what they are willing to pay for. You don’t get that choice, you’re not the customer. United forgot that, and it will cost them. It should. When the mask slips that badly it doesn’t go back on seamlessly (it might’ve, once). People pay attention more these days.

  20. Christopher M. Chupik

    As to the attempts to retroactively justify the passenger’s treatment, I think this tweet sums it up:

    “Alexandra Petri‏
    Verified account
     
    @petridishes

    Crucified Man Had Had Prior Run-Ins With Local Authorities”

  21. It has been such a long time since I was willing to fly that I really have no comment. It has nothing to do with fear so much as a great repugnance for the entire process involved, a repugnance heightened by the transparently bad theatre that has accompanied the process since the events of 9-11.

    Put simply, I find that, like Nero W., I prefer being at home.

    • I remember someone making the case that when you consider how much more dangerous driving is, as compared to flying, and when you consider how many people have avoided flying since 9-11 due to the changes in security screening, that the TSA has caused more deaths than terrorists.

  22. *sigh* I’ve recently moved (nearly) cross-country, but kept my job on the East Coast. As part of my alternate work arrangement, I need to visit the East Coast office twice a year (one visit is just around the corner).

    Greyhound doesn’t run in my new state; the international airport has limited service anyway (within 30min of a flight landing, the airport is empty); and when I checked my route on various web sites, United was the *only* carrier that came up.

    Oh yes, I’m in the process of learning how to drive but wouldn’t be comfortable driving to nearest large city to catch a flight from there anytime soon. But I need to change planes in nearest large city anyway, and will need to jog/run from this end of the terminal to that end to catch the connecting flight.

    • Check out waynaut.com, wanderu.com, and busbud.com. They’ll let you know about any non-airline travel options available for your route. You might also take a look at megabus.com, which could be one of those options; I’ve been happy with their service.

    • Our local airport has some of the highest fares in the country, and nearly any flight you take is a puddle jumping feeder transferring to a real flight at the larger airport 100 miles away. A lot of folks drive that 100 miles as even with gas, wear and tear, and parking fees it works out cheaper. Also, those feeder flights are notorious for never keeping to schedule. You either build several hours of contingency into your trip plan, or accept the high risk that they will do it for you.
      Best of both worlds, some enterprising entrepreneurs now have a shuttle service to that bigger airport.

      • Which is opposite how it used to be, at least for me. I had the choice of driving to Minneapolis and dealing with Minneapolis traffic and other such nonsense OR driving about the same distance to Sioux Falls with relative peace, and flying to Minneapolis to get on the same plane as if I’d driven there… but the peace of Sioux Falls was, at the time, several hundred dollars less. It made no sense, but I most certainly took advantage of it.

      • There might be an airport shuttle, private. There is one between CO Springs and Denver. Very comfortable and about the price of parking at the airport.

        • There is such a shuttle, I believe, between my local airport and its primary hub in Charlotte. Flying here to Charlotte takes about an hour (twenty minutes actual flight time) plus folderol while the shuttle costs significantly less and takes about ninety minutes.

          Or so I’ve been led to believe.

          I do not doubt such alternatives will become more commonplace until such time as airlines complain to various authorities about loss of business and such shuttles find themselves being denied restricted in their access to terminals …

        • There are multiple private shuttles between Tucson and Phoenix.

          • Beat me to it… Seems these are common, though.

            I think I only used that twice, though – and then because there was a direct flight from Sky Harbor to my destination. When I had to transfer anyway in Chicago, or Atlanta, or Dallas – Fort Worth, I just took the Tucson flight to that hub. (Didn’t kick in my cheapskate instinct – company travel.)

      • Last year, Peter, myself, Lawdog, TxRed, and OldNFO drove to Libertycon. Excellent company, wonderful people, but 16 hours in two days was hard on the assorted creaking appendages.

        This year, Peter and I will be renting a more comfortable car. Because it may take longer, but the lack of annoyance, the ability to bring anything you want in luggage, the LEG ROOM alone, all are worth the time. I suspect we’re going to be hauling subsidiary luggage in the trunk for other peoples who can’t spare the time, so they don’t have to have United lose (and break) their checked luggage.

        • For five people, a big SUV with three-row seating would be the way to go.

          As I’ve gotten older, the more-upright seating position of truck-ish vehicles is easier on my knees and hips than in low-slung vehicles.

          • It was a large SUV with three row seating. The problem was with a variety of joint complaints which led to complaining joints. Even I was creaking after some of the longer stretches of road.

            • clark e myers

              For group travel I like a raised top van conversion with captain’s chair seating when it’s any kind of decent road. SUV’s only when the road conditions demand something utility.

              • You ever see the amenities in the tour buses used by any half-way decent band?


                Then there are the amenities installed by the crew of the (late) CMT show Trick My Truck! Seriously, these guys put amazing comfort in surprisingly tidy spaces.

                See: www[DOT]freewebs[DOT]com/band-bus/

                • I don’t see any price figures on these babies, but it might well be worth the cost of six plane tickets. And with increased demand there would be greater supply …

                  http://www.hismajestycoach.com/luxury-sprinter-rentals/
                  Looking for Luxury Transportation for your next tour, road trip, or even a night on the town? His Majesty Coach offers Luxury Sprinter Rentals for up to 10 passengers or less in our Mauck2. This Mauck2 Mercedes Sprinter is perfect for corporate transportation, short road trips, or even long distance tours. It has 6 leather captain chairs with personal fold-away tables and 2 benches that seat (4) four additional passengers in the back. This sleek Mercedes Sprinter is a one of a kind in the luxury transportation industry.

            • Ack. I’ve been long (week or so) drives in such, and I would take a decently comfy car *any* day over that mess again. Heck, I’d see about renting a bloody camper for a week before doing that again, cost and all. Stop anywhere, bathroom anytime, hookup overnight and drive on at daylight. Did that with my grandparents back in the nineties, going to trade shows and suchlike.

            • If I ever make it to LibertyCon, the thought is in the back of my head to rent an RV…

              I’d probably swing up to Kansas and drive right down the middle of the country. If the unlikely happens, I’ll have to remember to put a notice out!

              (Well, if asked, I’d probably be happy to make the corner just a bit sharper, for certain people in Denver…)

            • Next time look at renting a Class C motor home. You can’t sleep 6 very well in one but there is usually plenty of seating and whoever isn’t driving can get up and move around.

          • We are taking my ’97 F-250 on our cross-country trip this summer (I’ll be getting a cap to put on the back). I decided that the convenience of being able to just stop and sleep in the back whenever and wherever we want to outweighed the convenience of sleeping in motel rooms at night. We’ll be stopping with family and friends often enough to get showers, and I got a small portable toilet to keep in the back. I’m a little concerned about driving a twenty-year-old vehicle on a trip that’s going to run somewhere around 9,000 miles by the time we get home (including side trips), but it’s in good shape, and low miles for it’s age.

          • I’m fond of the Subaru Forester for absurdly long trips with one or two people on board. Did a solo trip from Oregon to the Midwest 3 years ago in our first Forester, and found it quite comfortable, and surprisingly well controlled in crosswinds*. We now have a second Forester, and it has a bit more headroom than the first one. I like the ease of entry and exit from the two Subies.

            (*) 55 mph crosswinds are still a challenge, but it dealt with them. Nebraska is more interesting than fun to drive through.

            • Peter’s back doesn’t like the Subie’s seats on the older models, not for 8-hour drives. Now, an Impala? An Impala with lumbar support in the driver’s seat? Oh, that was lovely. A++, will rent again!

              • The budget was more forgiving with Subie 2; a 2016 with power seats and power lumbar supports. We did the Deepest Oregon-to-Medford run last Friday (2 hours each way), and did pretty well, despite fragile (but not horrible) backs. YMMV.

      • Our local airport only has one or two commercial flights out per day. I have flown out of this airport, but (especially in the winter) it’s usually better to drive three and a half hours north to the Bend/Redmond airport. It’s less expensive, and they are less likely to be fogged in. In the summer, it saves a bunch of money to fly from Medford, which is only two hours away, but we have to cross a mountain pass to get there, and they are fogged in even more often than the local airport. I’ve considered Reno, which is about five hours drive, but haven’t done that one yet (partly because I’m not familiar with the area at all).

        • I think you are underestimating the trip to Reno. IIRC, it’s 270 miles from Lakeview to Reno. Haven’t done that trip, but my wife has; lots of up and down, though 395 is a decent road. 140 can be iffy over Quartz mountain, even in April. I gather the drivers in Reno are bat-guano crazy…

          • I gather 395 isn’t as hilly as I thought, but it’s still a long way. The Medford trip isn’t bad, especially if the north end of Agency Lake is fog-free (good luck with that in December). We almost never take the southern route through K-Falls. Apparently, the big airline in Medford is United, though.

            • If I’m picturing the route right, the area around Shasta would’ve really ruined your day. It’s got some very mountain-pass roads.

              Some really nasty stuff just across the border from Medford, too– the kind where you’re not sure where the dang truck ramps are.

              • Different direction. East on Highway 140 to Lakeview, then more-or-less due south on US 395. Quartz mountain (between Klamath Falls and Lakeview) is sort-of-high, and get some interesting weather, but modulo ice on the road (not impossible mid April), it’s all right. I haven’t done the Lakeview to Reno trip myself, but my wife has family in that area, and she says it’s fairly easy.

                Highway 140 between Klamath County and Medford is pretty easy. It’s only an 800 foot rise from Klamath to the mountains, and it’s a 5% grade to Medford. Lots of turnouts on the uphill side; we use them a lot after a Costco trip. 🙂

                Shasta is the big weather maker, and the drop from Weed to Redding is steep, not to mention you have to deal with California freeway drivers. I haven’t been on I-5 north of Weed for decades, but it shows up in the weather reports. When we had to go to Chico area, we took US 97 to Weed, then I-5. Eventually, my wife settled on California 139 to get down there. California 299 is steep, but I’m not familiar with it.

                If you want to go east from Lakeview, Highway 140 gets you to Winnemucca. You have a long distance with little traffic and no cell coverage, but it’s all right in good weather. The trip up and down the plateau near Adel (several miles of 8% grade) is, er, interesting. I’ve done that round trip a couple of times now, but it’s off limits (by my standards) between mid=October to mid-April. Better to go to Reno or up to Boise if I have to get east.

                • *laughs* Ah, in the opposite direction is invisible to me– my mom’s from Lake County. We use to do the Big Shopping in Klamath Falls, too. Ages ago, but it’s the “normal” lurking in the back of my head. 😀

                  If we went to Reno, it would’ve been via Surprise Valley to Gurloch (sp?) and that’s blank, too.

    • Also, you can check the airport to see if there are any private fliers willing to fly you from there to a hub. You might be pleasantly surprised.

  23. This is one where I’m really torn. I agree that United fluffed up bit time, to put it mildly. HOWEVER, as former flight crew, the law about not interfering with flight crew is necessary. Was it applied properly in this case? Personally I believe it was not. Should there be consequences for harassing flight attendants, threatening them, or trying to get into the cockpit, or not following safety instructions? [Yes, I’m glowering at you, dude that insisted on trying to stand by the door when we stopped between runways so that he would be first off the plane. And then tried to order the stew out of her jump-seat by the door so he could sit there and be the first one out.] Yes, there should be consequences, but they should depend on the degree of the problem.

    • Yes, if you are being unruly or disruptive there ought to be a price. But if the confrontation is caused by airline employees, then no.

      And Judge Posner is still a moron.

    • I totally agree that in transit the flight crew must have complete control. I believe that under law the captain has rather broad powers in such a case.
      But the key element of the current situation was them invoking such powers while the plane was still parked at the gate.
      I will note that best I can determine the physical abuse of the passenger was carried out by airport cops, not by the crew, though certainly at their request.

      • If they have complete control, then they have complete responsibility.

        They’re the ones who called in the goons, they’re responsible for what happened.

    • Since every report I have heard was this was a replacement crew for a timeout, I really would like to know the frequency of this and why timed out. Could have just cancelled the four or five flights that crew was needed for. Wouldn’t have hurt PR. Not like those few hundred would get any coverage. If these unplanned transfer crew flights common, they need a better plan. If not they need to update procedure for buyout. But the only thing likely to happen is govt gets more Involved and penalizes everyone. But TBH I am at the point of mistrusting all sides on this.

      Only airline ever been bumped from was Southwest. Have had more than enough bad experiences with them that I don’t bother. DL I’ve had good luck, UA has been good and AA I expect at least one delay. Trains anywhere I’d fly are 2 days at least. And cost nearly as much for same seat (I can’t sleep in chairs) so it’s airlines for most of my travel.

  24. The best tweet/gab (I forget which now) I’ve seen was on the order of:

    Pepsi: We can really screw up our image.
    United: Hold my beer and watch this.
    Beer Industry: Would you leave me out of this stuff?

  25. This is just a logical extension of how they treat your baggage… Remember, United Breaks Guitars!

    • So they’ve gone from breaking guitars to breaking heads. Hmm.

    • Yeah, but how else would we get such a great song? 🙂

      This problem isn’t new. I occasionally ship air freight, and United has sucked at least back to 1974, when I first had the misfortune to be stuck with them. It doesn’t seem to be so much “bad service” as that they’re extremely disorganized, or maybe too compartmentalized. Frex, for live freight any other airline requires 24 hours reservation and 2 hours on the ground if you change planes. United requires 48 hours reservation plus a confirmation followup (and chances are they’ll never get the confirmation back to you) and 4 hours on the ground.

      I quickly learned two things about shipping by air:

      1) use United only as a last resort
      2) NEVER change planes in Chicago (perhaps not coincidentally, United’s main freight hub)

      A few years ago United stopped accepting live freight, word around was because of escalating service complaints.

      United being clueless about passenger handling… well, I’m not surprised.

      • United being clueless about passenger handling… well, I’m not surprised.

        Well, there you go, live freight.

  26. It was a perfect storm of arrogance, with United bumping the passenger, and Chicago Aviation Officers providing the muscle. The officer in charge of removing the passenger has been placed on administrative leave, BTW.

    I don’t think the increased arrogance comes from government dollars, but the rise of the MBA managers who think they can maximize profit at the expense of customer service. This ranges from overbooking to “insure” a flight has the maximum number of passengers to the Incredible Shrinking Seat, with the end result being the “apology” that was more justification of the ticket fine print that would shame a software company.

    With airlines, the first action is simply not to fly if at all possible. Some have preferred that option for years, and it’s probably going to spike now. I’m not sure how I feel about “There ought to be a law,” but a move to make overbooking illegal would be a nice way to watch the airlines squirm.

    With TSA and cops, the other, more serious, issue is lack of a means of redress by citizens, and that can be addressed by law, if elected officials feel enough pressure to do so.

    • > administrative leave

      He’ll be paid not to work. And there will be no other consequences.

      Boy, *that* will make the jackbooted thugs toe the line…

    • Only thing I would expect from a no overbook policy is complete loss of ticket change. At least for the common fliers. My company just pools em and uses unused tickets as needed but we may have a bit more leeway since can be in our sales contracts for their birds. But the general economy seats the seats will be full, even if unoccupied. The LE response in this case is the bigger item to me, but the only target of any of this is going to be the airline. That is the disturbing part to me.

      More competition would be nice, but won’t happen for a while. Especially since almost every industry is going down the path of contract vs posession.

      • If the airline suffers enough, they will take steps to keep the LE under better control so stuff like this doesn’t happen again. So it will hit the LE eventually, even if not directly.

    • Forget it, Jake; It’s Chicago.

    • When there were many airlines and competition, they had to compete on price and service.

      Now it’s a small oligopoly, and you take it or leave it.

    • Kevin, a bit of disagreement here. I’m not sure there’s any way to shame a software company.

  27. This was a time when my blog got on a good day about 100 hits, but within hours of my putting up a post critical of Frontier, we had a bonafide Frontier apologist, casting aspersions on my character and acting like I was crazy and “entitled.”

    I had that happen with the old “can of wasp spray as a self-defense item” thing.

    Pointed out it was a bad idea, but that wasn’t good enough– at least, for whoever was running the auto-search thing.

    • What’s wrong with using a can of wasp spray for self defense? It’s pretty solid, so you could use it to get a good whack or two at the head; this, in turn, will give you a little more time to pull your gun out of the holster.

      Oh, wait, you are probably talking about the people who say that you should use wasp spray much like one would use pepper spray. Yeah, I have no experience with that at all, but I’ve heard people describing how they’ve accidentally sprayed themselves in the eyes with the stuff, and it didn’t even phase them….

      • It’s an absolute unknown– of course, you don’t know if the person you hit with “self defense spray” is one of the naturally immune, nor if they’ve been exposed enough to build up an immunity. (Which anyone can do, as long as they’re not that smaller percent that is deathly allergic.)

        Basically, it’s the wasp spray guys doing some “oh please avoid the lawsuits for maiming some burglar” efforts. Of everyone involved in a home invasion, the bug spray company is the most likely to have deep pockets, and I’ve heard of folks going blind from accidental spraying.

  28. I also used to fly a lot. The BS after 9/11, as well as the higher prices due to the higher fuel costs have pretty much put an end to it. I now hate flying.
    Why?

    I used to be the guy who got searched all the time. Because I’m obviously NOT a terrorist. I’ve been searched and had my luggage gone through more than a hundred times.
    That gets old, real quick.

    Then there are the cattle cars they stick you in. I’m 6’1″ and a fairly large person. Those small seats and lack of legroom are uncomfortable.

    So higher prices, less services, and physical abuse. Oh, and unreliable schedules, so I’m often forces to waste hours of my time waiting at the airport. Yeah, flying sucks. If I was rich, I’d buy a plane and fly myself.

    • My younger kid, in addition to being over six feet, with huge shoulders is collecting countries in Europe where he’s been felt up. I should note he’s the good looking one in the family. AND D*MN it if some security officer doesn’t always want to feel him up.
      Since we bounce off a different country every time we go to Portugal, he’s joking about having a T-shirt made with “I was felt up all over Europe” or “Europe, the palpating tour” with the cities highlighted.

  29. This comment is really from Jay Maynard, who has relayed it to me as WP seems determined not to let it post directly from him:

    Sarah, while I generally agree with your post – and United’s committed a huge PR disaster – there’s two things you missed:

    1) Your travel is subject to a contract of carriage. Nobody ever reads the damned things, true. But they give United (and every other airline) the right to refuse to carry any passenger for nearly any reason you can name, including overbooking. By buying a ticket you agree to that contract of carriage.

    Unfair? Absolutely. Contracts of adhesion are never fair. But that’s the way the laws are written, and you’re stuck with it.

    2) Under the law, the flight crew has th right to tell you to do nearly anything, and you are required to obey. This is there for safety reasons; you need to follow their directions in an emergency without question. Yes, it can be and is regularly abused, but it’s there for good reason.

    United screwed up, no two ways about it. The doctor’s past history is completely irrelevant, and United’s smear campaign against him (with the connivance of the Louisville newspaper; where the hell did they get his name? When they had it, the only source could have been somewhere within United itself.) uncalled-for and while not libelous, constitutes at minimum character assassination. United owes the guy a personal apology by name, a refund of his fare, and the maximum denied boarding cash compensation called for by law (400% of the price paid for his ticket, up to a maximum of $1350).

    But if the flight crew tells you you need to get off the airplane, you have no choice at all. You can try to talk your way out of it, but if you don’t succeed, you must get up and leave the aircraft, schedules be damned.

    Will airlines be smart enough to learn from this and change the way they handle overbooking? (Don’t kid yourself. They’ll still do it, no matter what. The incentives are too great not to.) Heaven only knows.

    • Best part about the doctor’s past history? They may have gotten the wrong doctor. Oops.

    • In some ways it doesn’t matter what the fine print says. Airlines will continue to vie for the Jerks of the Year award, but after this publicity disaster for United I bet no American airline will ever, ever, ever have an arbitrarily chosen passenger physically dragged off a plane.

    • It is the same as arguing with a cop on the side of the road. You will not win, and will be lucky if just lose any leeway you may have gotten. May not be right but it’s how the law works. Fight it on the ground. Because reboarding against gate agent instructions and refusing to leave will not end well as it stands today. You’ll just have to fight it in court, possibly fight charges, and hope gate agent doesn’t toss you on the NFL.

      • Yeah.

        Self-help is often — ill-advised.

        Indeed, one could say that self-help’s ill-advised nature is why we bother to have a law at all.

        • Depends how much trust you put in others. Difference between wrongful death and wrongful arrest. But the way things are they will find a way to hurt you.

          • You speak as if there were an alternative. Because you would also have to trust other people, who could indulge in some self-help on the grounds, or pretext, of having been wronged by you.

            • Right now the situation is that you have no rights to your own help or at very least will see some significant penalty.for doing so. And no right to get help from the enforcers that hold the Monopoly. SOL either way.

    • “Will airlines be smart enough to learn from this and change the way they handle overbooking?”

      Maybe not. At which point, the invisible boot of a pissed off electorate will be willing to vote in some politicians to educate them, since the invisible hand of the market isn’t enough.

    • I actually sat down and read the UAL contract of carriage (“COC”) after hearing about this. And yes, I am an attorney but I don’t practice aeronautics law. My short conclusion is that (a) the flight was not “Oversold” in accordance with the definition contained in the COC and (b) they were not justified under the “Security” section in removing him from the plane – (“Passengers who fail to comply with or interfere with the duties of the members of the flight crew, federal regulations, or security directives”) as the initial instructions to him were wrongful and from a gate agent, not flight crew and removing him was not the duty of the flight crew. Now, there is something in the COC which reads as follows “Seat assignments, regardless of class of service, are not guaranteed and are subject to change without notice. UA reserves the right to reseat a Passenger for any reason, including from an Economy Plus seat for which the applicable fee has been paid (fees range from 9 USD/CAD to 299 USD/CAD per flight segment per person), and if a Passenger is improperly or erroneously upgraded to a different class of service.” – but reseating him is NOT the same as denying him service and/or removing him from the airline.

      Bottom line, I sincerely believe this situation is actually outside UAL’s COC.

      I hate flying as well, but at least I get decent treatment on American – lifetime gold member thanks to far too much flying. My worst year was when I made both gold on American and Premier Executive on UAL. But not flying is not an option – we’re in a suburb of Chicago, my wife’s family is in Europe and my parents are in Reno. Even Southwest resembles a !$#@ cattle car in the sky – albiet with some folks who have a sense of humor and/or humanity.

  30. I must have taken to not only talking to myself – but commenting to myself. I would swear I posted this already…

    One thing I haven’t seen is the tendency of all too many companies to hire reputation managers – instead of reputation builders. The “manager” functions to paper over the (inevitable, IMHO) occasional faux-pas of an employee, or even the CEO. The “builder,” on the other hand, functions to make the occasional faux-pas irrelevant in the long run.

    Contrast sales trends at Target to those of Chik-fil-A…

  31. First. Boycotting United Airlines sounds great. Fortunately, there are plenty of other fish in the sea, or planes in the air, to take. Might not be leaving at the most convenient hour, but the reality is, none of them leave at a convenient hour.

    Second. I really need to call my broker and make sure that he dumps any UAL stock I have, if any. Although frankly, I’d not complain if it valued to zero. (Diversification is a wonderful thing in investing.) It would be worth it to blacken United’s nose, even to spite my own face. And in this case, investors in United Airlines deserve some negative financial feedback because they tacitly have been approving this sort of behavior purely to make a buck, whether they know it or not.

    Third. Speaking from my 20+ years experience in the USAF, you only de-plane someone for the safety of the aircraft. Obviously terrorists, the violent, the criminal. Not so obvious the ones needing to go because of plane weight issues. If you’ve ever taken an Summer afternoon flight out of Tucson, Arizona, the hot air is isn’t dense enough to support a normal load aircraft and they have to lighten it by dumping baggage, cargo, and passengers. But they do that before they board, not afterwards. Balancing an aircraft is also one reason why they might ask passengers to move from one side or end of the aircraft to another. It’s way faster than having to empty and repack the cargo hold, and they may not be able to redistribute enough fuel from one tank to another to do the balancing behind the scenes.

    But like I said, you do those things BEFORE you load the aircraft. Airlines know the weight and cube of your luggage. They have automated programs that tell them where to load it for proper balance. They know your weight. They know who showed up and checked in. You never put a well-behaved, paying customer on a flight and then demand they get off once they’re seated.

    • When $HOOTERVILLE had a little commercial service, there were stories of folks who were jolted by the asking of people to move about for weight and balance issues of the “puddle jumper.” More than once I saw an email that someone was looking for (begging for?) a ride to Minneapolis to avoid the small craft flight. I never took such, but I think I would have enjoyed it. But then, I liked riding in a J-3 – once sans door for autumn foliage viewing – so almost everything else is a “big” plane to me.

      • The one time I got shoved around on a puddle jumper for weight reasons, it was awesome. I wound up sitting right behind the pilots with a beautiful view out of the front of the airplane and of the weather radar.

        • For a trans-Pacific flight, nothing ever quite equaled the time I rode as a military passenger on a Navy P3-Orion from Misawa AB, to Moffit Field, California, when one of the VP squadrons rotated home. It was absolutely splendid. Wander around the aircraft at will, save when landing and taking off. Standing on the flight deck, looking over the pilot’s shoulders, seeing the coastal mountains rising up from the morning mist as we came in over the ocean. Being taught how to play Hearts with some of the guys at the galley table. Getting a soft drink or coffee whenever. Watching the squadron commander take a sighting and complaining that new technology had taken all the fun out of celestial navigation …
          That was the flight to beat all transcontinental flights…

    • Hmm. I never noticed that on my summer flights out of Tucson (and there were many, in one period of my life). OTOH, I’m pretty close to the middle of the Bell curve, so probably wouldn’t have been the one asked to move.

      The puddle jumper between Peterborough, NH and Boston, though – they pretty much assigned seats as you boarded and they got a look at you.

    • For what it’s worth, I’ve done the analysis of various airline business plans back in the day in connection with certain bankruptcy proceedings. I would strongly recommend that airline stock is a bad idea, long term – the underlying economics create weird situations. (Ridiculously low marginal costs to selling 1 more seat until the plane is full. Ridiculously high marginal cost for that first seat or to establish a regular route. It just begs for fare wars.)

  32. Maybe it’s because we’ve always been at the far end of beyond, but I’ve known about the “the airline doesn’t actually have to provide you with a flight” thing since before 9/11. Our home airport was regularly canceled for “weather” on clear nights, because only three people booked. (“Home airport” was also over an hour from home, but hey.)

    The fine print. It matters.

    Strangely enough, this is one of those things where I’ve seen it held up as an example of how you can make agreements that cover all sorts of complicated situations, like “we really can’t afford to do this flight” or “there’s too many people on this flight.”

  33. Yeah, they have the legal right to do that, even if you didn’t know it… but you know, they only went up to $800 on the offers? they can go up to $1000, comped hotel, comped meal, and transportation to and from. The sheer disaster of cheaping out and bumping pax because they didn’t want to raise the price until they got enough takers? and for NON-REV? That was institutionalized stupidity at work.
    (PS – those are domestic limits. The comps offered for international flights are might higher.)

    The overbooking, by the way, condensing a long complication to a blog comment… Airlines used to be required to fly their routes a certain frequency, even if there were no pax on the flight. So they were allowed to overbook in order to make enough paying seat happen to make flights profitable – and 20% was the number arrived at for the standard no-show at that time. Before online check-in, before TSA,” before RJ’s drastically dropped the seat-mile cost for feeder routes…

    *facepalm* But it all comes down to “Doesn’t matter what’s legal by the definition stated in the contract; if the customer doesn’t feel it’s right, you’ve got problems.”

  34. From Fark.com:
    United, in an effort to improve public relations, has added scorpions to its airplanes
    http://globalnews.ca/news/3372520/man-bitten-by-scorpion-during-flight-to-calgary/

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Why? It’s in their nature.

      • The best comment (so far):
        wejash: God knows his crisis PR advisers would prefer a scorpion as boss instead of Oscar. The scorpion will just sting…it won’t keep talking.

        • Heh.

          United Says It Won’t Use Police to Remove Paid Passengers
          United Continental CEO Oscar Munoz said in a TV interview that he is “ashamed” of his company’s treatment of a passenger dragged off a plane by law enforcement. He added that he plans a review of the airline’s overbooking policies.

          Behind Wall St. Jnl paywall so I provide no link.

  35. I am not trying to defend the airline; but everyone with an IQ over room temperature ought to know that–especially after 9/11–Airport Security folks have to be obeyed.

    The airline chose their path… poorly… They will suffer for it, more than they already have.

    The doctor chose his path… poorly… He will suffer for it, more than he already has.

    The security team chose their path… poorly… They may suffer for it; but I doubt it. There are far too few consequences for this type of overreaction.

    The entire weight is not on any one actor. And frankly speaking, could have been avoided by any of the three parties involved.

    • Yes, there is plenty of blame to go around. But I would say that if you sell a ticket promising a seat (and have told federal officials that ALL ticket-holder WILL have a seat… as said in…2014?) and then let folks board and take said seat(s), and only then do you go “hang on, we need…” that’s probably the Fsckupis Majoris of the lot. If not that, then the insistence that it’s THAT ONE particular person, rather than upping the bid until someone decides the money (or whatever) is worth more than the time. It’s the Prime (re)Mover of the whole thing. So… United might not be the sole actor, but IS the instigator and gets a well-deserved pie to the face from it.

    • “Airport Security folks have to be obeyed.”
      Not if they constitute a threat to your safety, or are obviously violating your Constitutional rights. You don’t have to go Batman on them, but a little Ghandi-esque or MLKJr civil disobedience can get you a long way in the battle. What this Dr. did constitutes justifiable civil disobedience, and United And the Airport Security stuck their foot in it up to their necks. By the way, at the end of all this, I expect Dr. Dao will be able to retire comfortably.

    • You do not get it. Depending on the patients he had the next day, the doctor might have had an obligation to fight delay or be held by the ama to have broken professional conduct.

    • “The doctor chose his path… poorly…”

      Dunno. Could be he reached his limit, threw his gloves on the ice and said “That’s it! Now I’m gonna fight!” That’s less a choice and more a biological imperative, sometimes. I do a lot of planning to make sure that doesn’t happen to me.

      That frustration limit is getting hit on airplanes more and more often these days. People hitting the wall is getting to be a thing, as the system becomes more and more actively hostile to the people using it.

      Frankly, I think America and most certainly Canada would be better places if more guys flatly refused to cooperate like the doctor here. Yes, he got hurt, yes it was pointless, but really, these things almost always ARE pointless. Somebody always gets hurt. Freedom ain’t free.

      Besides. If the lawsuits go his way, he could end up the owner of an airline.

      • If the lawsuits go his way, he could end up the owner of an airline.

        Distinguo: He could end up the owner of United. Not even in his dreams would he actually own an airline.

        • Good lord – I’m quite sure the doctor would prefer monetary damages to something like UAL stock. I hope he is WELL compensated.

  36. BTW, the discussions about “entitled” vs. “fine print” conjured up unfortunate memories of South Park. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HumancentiPad (99.44% NSFW).

  37. An alternate perspective (on the incident, not the general issue):

    United Airlines Was Right to Remove a Belligerent Passenger
    [SNIP]
    So when a passenger on United Airlines flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was randomly chosen to be removed, he was right to be angry. But that didn’t give him the right to make a scene and delay the flight.

    About eighty other people also had to get home. They didn’t want to get bumped either. Why should one man be treated differently than the other passengers (including the ones who left their seats without a fuss when they were told they were getting bumped)? For him to have insisted that he alone shouldn’t be bumped is the height of entitlement.

    The man, now identified as Dr. David Dao of Kentucky, complained that he had to get to work on Monday. Did no one else on the plane have a job? He said he was a doctor and had to see patients. Should doctors be privileged over workers in other industries? Does his hospital only employ a single doctor and have no one else available to cover his rounds?

    If the man was so concerned about people being bumped, why didn’t he make a scene when the couple ahead of him was forced off the fight? Did he think his right to get to Louisville was more important than theirs?

    After being told multiple times by multiple employees to get off the plane, and refusing, the police were called, and he resisted. Ultimately he was removed by force. That didn’t have to happen if he had left the plane peacefully like the other people who left the plane.

    [SNIP]

    Yet for all the outrage expressed by some of the passengers, none of them stood up and said, “I volunteer my seat.” Apparently, they too, wanted to get home. Indeed, United offered hundreds of dollars to anyone who would give up their seat. There were no takers.

    [SNIP]

    To let him stay and bump someone else just because he made a fuss would be to reward bad behavior. It would be unfair to kick someone off a flight just because they act calmly like an adult rather than like a toddler having a tantrum. If the four United employees who filled the seats of the bumped passengers didn’t fly to Louisville, a whole plane full of people leaving Louisville could have been canceled or delayed.

    There are a lot of problems with service in the airline industry. Overbooking flights is a standard industry practice that annoys us all when it impacts us. But these are facts that impact everyone who flies. We’re all in the same plane, as it were.

    To focus all of our attention on the one person who feels he is above having to deal with the same disruptions and annoyances as every other airline passenger shows how powerful (and misguided) the social media outrage machine has become. Too bad that outrage can’t be directed at something that really matters.

    • Hmmm, let’s play “change a couple nouns and see how it scans!”
      …fisking as follows…

      So when a passenger on the National City Lines bus 2857 in Montgomery on Dec 1, 1955 was randomly chosen to be removed from her seat, she was right to be angry. But that didn’t give her the right to make a scene and delay the trip.

      About thirty other people also had to get home. They didn’t want to get bumped either. Why should one woman be treated differently than the other passengers (including the ones who left their seats without a fuss when they were told they were getting bumped)? For her to have insisted that she alone shouldn’t be bumped is the height of entitlement.

      The woman, now identified as Rosa Parks of Tuskegee, Alabama, complained that she didn’t feel she had to give up her seat. Did no one else on the plane have to give up their seat? She said blacks should be treated the same as whites, both as human citizens. Should (insert any stupid racist argument of the time here; I can’t even bring myself to repeat that drivel.)

      If the woman was so concerned about people being bumped, why didn’t she make a scene when the couple ahead of her was forced to stand? Did she think her right to get to her destination still sitting was more important than theirs?

      After being told multiple times by the driver to get off the seat, and refusing, the police were called, and she resisted. Ultimately she was removed by force. That didn’t have to happen if she had given up her seat peacefully like the other people who stood up.

      [SNIP]

      Yet for all the outrage expressed by some of the passengers, none of them stood up and said, “I volunteer my seat.” Apparently, they too, wanted to get home seated. (Granted, here’s a difference; the bus company offered no compensation for standing.) There were no takers.

      [SNIP]

      To let her stay and bump someone else just because she made a fuss would be to reward bad behavior. It would be unfair to kick someone out of their seat just because they act calmly like an adult rather than like a toddler having a tantrum. If the white people who filled the seats of the bumped passengers didn’t sit down, (insert stupid racist drivel about overturning social order that they believed back in the day.)

      There are a lot of problems with service in the bus industry. Overbooking trips is a standard industry practice that annoys us all when it impacts us. But these are facts that impact everyone who rides. We’re all in the same bus, as it were.

      To focus all of our attention on the one person who feels he is above having to deal with the same disruptions and annoyances as every other black passenger shows how powerful (and misguided) the civil rights outrage machine has become. Too bad that outrage can’t be directed at something that really matters.

      …*shudders* It’s amazing how well those two map onto each other. I could have put more effort into grafting in the arguments that sounded so reasonable when “everybody knew” that “seperate but equal” was how the world worked. But even doing this made me want to go douse my brain with bleach and scrub. In fact, I think I feel a rum and coke calling my name.

      One good thing out of the exercise: I learned that although I was taught Rosa Parks was too tired to move, she was not. She was just angry, and tired of the whole damn situation.God knows I can understand that, and thank God for those people who worked to put an end to the institutionalized injustice, and drag all of us into a better and brighter future.

      • Michael Houst

        Oh, that was very good!

      • Two minor difference. One, Rosa Parks was directed to sit i the back of the bus, not directed to stand, not directed to “get off the bus.”

        Two, the policy in question was not the bus line’s but the city’s, and specifically targeted a racially distinct group. She was not chosen at random.

        Oh, and Parks was not simply “tired” nor was she “just angry.” She was a politically trained activist deliberately engaging in civil disobedience to protest an iniquitous policy.

        • and three, she was offered no compensation for giving up her seat, and four, she wasn’t beaten by the cops; she was politely arrested and moved along with a minimum of fuss instead of given a bloody concussion.

          Still, the tone of blithe unconcern for the sacrificial victim and “how dare he make a fuss!” from the article writer against practices that are… perceived as unjust, unfair, and common enough to spark the “We’ve all been there or known someone who has” level of mob rage? Works just fine from one to the other.

      • Sorry, but the Rosa Parks turn doesn’t hold up under the facts. And the innuendo is bogus.

    • “So when a passenger on United Airlines flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was randomly chosen to be removed, he was right to be angry. But that didn’t give him the right to make a scene and delay the flight.”

      I have a question. By what right does the author, or the other passengers on the flight for that matter, demand that the “randomly chosen” victim shut up and meekly submit to being screwed over?

      • Michael Houst

        Two thumbs up Phantom!

      • The victim is not required to “shut up and meekly submit to being screwed over” but should perhaps pursue his refusal through other means, in other venues.

        • Really? Why the beating then?

          He didn’t shut up and meekly submit, is why. The cops decided to hurt him. Just because.

          • The greatest generals knew the difference between strategic retreat and fighting to the last gasping breath. Sometimes it is prudent to submit temporarily and litigate the matter in a time and venue more favorable.

            “Shutting up and submitting” and “taking a beating” were not the only choices available.

            Really, who assumes a Chicago cop wouldn’t dare smack you around? (Besides Rahm Emanuel, Louis Farasican, and Barray & Michelle Obama?)

            • “Really, who assumes a Chicago cop wouldn’t dare smack you around?”

              Yes, that is the reality of the situation. The cops can beat anybody with impunity. But the general public DOES NOT KNOW THAT. They do not understand that they have no rights and no protection.

              If the doctor knew ahead of time that they were going to put him in the hospital for three days, do you think he would have still resisted? He didn’t know to shut up. He thought he was a free man, who had rights.

              The point of a free country is that the cops DON’T dare. They can’t afford to take their temper out on random victims because the victim will drop a chimney on them, right there and right then.

              • [T]he victim will drop a chimney on them, right there and right then.

                As opposed to dropping a whole house on them at a later date.

        • Perhaps he should. It would certainly have avoided the face-smashing and concussion, so it would have been wiser for him. And yet, what other venues does he have? United has the contract of carriage sewn up so he has no legal course of action. When United should have put themselves out of our misery, the government chose to bail them out as too big to fail, so there appears to be no economic pressure to bear, not even were he to become a majority stockholder. Were he to take his course public? Well, he’d be just as also-ran as my neighbor who took United last week and they never loaded his luggage, nor informed him until after he was on the ground after his connecting flight. Or the guy in Hawaii who got offered being moved back to economy or handcuffs because someone not yet boarded was a higher priority. Join the queue of people who’ve been harassed, delayed, inconvenienced, and irritated, and told to get over it and keep flying the unfriendly air, because there’s nothing else you can do that will change things.

          Perhaps, after a year of them refusing to compensate him, he could have composed a catchy tune and released it on youtube called “United Breaks Guitars”? Ah, yes, Sons of Maxwell did eventually get compensation, but only after the video went viral and on all the news and talk shows. And the doctor doesn’t seem to have the social skills for that. (And given my neighbor’s hassles last week, they don’t seem to have improved baggage handling after that incident.)

          So in the face of no viable alternatives, he went for sheer stubborn refusal. And got his face smashed. And lo, the video went viral, because the travelling masses went “Damn, United screwed him even harder than they screwed me/my neighbor/ my cousin / the basketball team when they went to disney / my coworker….” For behold, the customer service of United is as legendary as the cuteness of kittens. And America is breifly united… by United.

          • I’m still tilting at the United windmill myself from a baggage SNAFU back in January. I’m not even asking for monetary compensation, I just want them to answer two questions 1) what went wrong and 2) what will they change so a similar thing doesn’t happen in the future. They are refusing to answer either question.

    • I have a problem with some of the other issues, too. I am not a doctor with patients, so I have no idea how urgent it would be for me to get back to seeing them. I am a software developer, so while I might not have volunteered to be bumped, if it took another day to get home, I’m not as likely to complain. I have a difficult time imagining my situation to get home being urgent, even if it means I’m going to have to work extra hours the next few days to make up for the lost time, and to preserve paid time off that is so limited as it is.

      I cannot vouch for the other passengers, but I will say that they have no means to determine whether the person claiming to be a doctor was telling the truth, or could have the means to understand the doctor’s urgency.

      And I would go so far as to say that, in such a situation, I might very well be a coward, and not speak up. I might not even understand that someone is about to spend several days in the hospital, and if I just volunteered, that would be prevented. I might even be too tired to care.

      Who knows? It might take a bloody incident like this to cause United to reflect on their policies, or force them out of business and allow other companies with better customer service to fill the gaps. And perhaps, by random chance, United happened to choose the right person who felt just enough personal urgency to cause the bloody incident, and thereby force the issue…

  38. clark e myers

    The arrogance that most annoys me is not the inevitable consequences of force when it wasn’t necessary. As noted many places the airline’s offer could and should have been raised; the passenger should have been allowed to further motivate an otherwise paid volunteer with valuata or with sob story. If I understand the press reports after the recalcitrant passenger was removed several more people exited voluntarily so the plane flew with empty seats?!

    The press at least repeats “overbooked”. I gather the plane was not in fact overbooked in the sense of more seats promised than the plane has. As I understand the situation the 4 transferring flight crew members were never booked at all.

    The arrogance that annoys me is that I have to check in early and at least as reported the 4 flight crew members repositioning (not deadheading? I gather deadhead is technical term?) not only did not notify anyone at all early: the 4 people are reported to have first appeared on scene after the flight was fully occupied – apparently in full confidence that a place would be made for them. That’s arrogance.

    On the airline business in general Ryanair’s tremendously successful business model – ” In 2016, Ryanair was both the largest European airline by scheduled passengers carried, and the busiest international airline by passenger numbers.[3]” – Wikipedia has little connection to the post 9/11 mess in American airports. Frontier out of Denver tried to be a little nicer airline at a negligibly higher price (flying Airbus with decent seat pitch and more direct and non-stop flights compared to say Southwest flying shorter legs with shorter leg room.) and failed. The L1011 was built to be a nicer flight experience and failed in the market place against a little cheaper flight experience – passengers don’t buy the airplanes and have in the end little input.

    Every once in a while somebody out there does act sensibly enough to restore some faith in humanity after Kabuki theater. I once flew as a single male, no notice cash purchase one way traveling with a GI duffle with my paperwork flagged for hassle this guy at every opportunity – I wonder what would have happened if I had whited it out? – and pulled aside to a private room for full head to toe inspection the inspector was kind enough to pat the duffle bag, say “personal effects? right” and pass me along when it would have been annoying to empty out and then repack the duffle on minus time to board. Sometimes flight crew does what they can to make travel tolerable if not fun again.

    • > extra room

      No, passengers probably weren’t willing to pay for a small increase in room. Because that particular plane was only one of two or three they had to shuffle between to get to their destination, so what real difference did it make in the long run?

      • No, passengers probably weren’t willing to pay for a small increase in room.

        How would you know? When have passengers ever actually been offered the choice?

    • Frontier also used to hit some of the podunk airports in flyover country that no one else bothered with. At the time if you wanted to fly N/S in the mountain west, they were your choice of one. Reliable and good to deal with for freight, but expensive (about double the cost of the then-sole E-W option, Northwest). All those same airports and more are now being served by Alaska Air.

      Best service I’ve seen was from Hughes AirWest. They had flexible routes — they’d make stops where they didn’t normally, if it was on the route and you called ahead.

  39. One place where I have to disagree is that this is a post 9/11 thing. If 9/11 did anything, it simply accelerated a trend that already existed. Airline quality had been going down for a long time. I remember having a discussion about one of the Babysitter’s Club books where a character flies from Connecticut to California and has a bad experience. Those whose earliest memories of flying date to the late 90s were mocking the character as an entitled princess for thinking that the stewardess ought to be courteous to her, give her meal that met her dietary requirements, and generally treat her like a fellow human being. Those of us who were older had to explain that, no, airline travel really used to work like that: you used to be able to expect that the stewardesses would serve you rather than treat you like an annoyance.

    It’s also worth pointing out that the authoritarian mindset didn’t start on 9/11. In fact Mark Steyn wrote a column suggesting that the authoritarian mindset might be part of what caused 9/11: that if 4 guys had tried to overpower 50 with a handful of box cutters anywhere but an airline cabinet, they’d have ended up black and blue. But in an airline cabin, even then, we were all so used to the “stay in your seat, shut up, do as you’re told” that fighting back didn’t seem like an option until the full extent of what was going on was known.

    A number of people blame the decrease in quality on the travel websites, and I think there’s something to that: being the cheapest fair matters so much that it’s worth it to the airlines to shove as much as they can into extra fees; pretty soon, they’ll require you to fly naked if you don’t pay an extra “clothing weight” fee. Those who are saying they’ll boycott United…let’s see if that holds when United comes up as the cheapest option in Expedia.

    • > didn’t seem like an option

      Not to everyone. At least, not on UA Flight 93, 09/11/2001.

      “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.”

      • “fighting back didn’t seem like an option until the full extent of what was going on was known”

        On Flight 93, they knew.

      • No, the official airline policy prior to 9/11 was cooperate with the hijackers and minimize risk to the crew and passengers. There was no concept of turning an airliner into a guided missile, and then suddenly there was and everything changed forever.
        Technically, before that day if a passenger attempted to interfere with a hijacking the crew would have been trained to restrain them. All in the name of safety and to minimize risk and loss of life or property.

  40. clark e myers

    Aviation Week has an interesting editorial with a lot of what are probably facts – Search on aviationweek.com/commercial-aviation/opinion-united-airlines-latest-public-relations-fiasco? –
    ending with a reference to the opinions most likely to change United’s policies:

    ……. The carrier is the biggest member of Star Alliance, operating a transatlantic joint venture with the Lufthansa Group and Air Canada. They are eager to have access to United’s huge network, but its customer service reputation has concerned them for a very long time. And at a time when United hopes to make inroads in the vast market of China, public outcry there has been massive. State and social media are saying the event was racially motivated; the recalcitrant passenger is of Asian descent. 

    Lastly, the incident could bring about tougher airline regulations. If that happens, United must share a large part of the blame.

    • From the article:
      “The forceful removal of a passenger marks a giant misstep in United’s effort to improve its reputation” Giant misstep, to me, rather understates the case,
      “Godzilla-sized” or “King Kong-sized” approach adequacy, in my mind.

  41. The overbooking thing keeps getting thrown around, but the reason the flight was “overbooked” was because they needed to transfer flight crew from Chicago to Louisville.

    So the real problem here seems to be how United schedules it’s crews.

    I flew from Phoenix Sky Harbor to Wichita and back the Christmas before last, with a layover in Denver going to Wichita and Dallas/Fort Worth headed back to Arizona. Both the Denver to Wichita (United) and Dallas to Phoenix (American) were delayed while we waited for replacement flight crews to arrive.

    • Things happen. Things happen that one cannot foresee or control.

      • Michael Houst

        Piss poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

        This condition was neither uncontrolled nor unforeseen by United. They deliberately chose to make the passengers pay the price for their incompetence.

        • You can’t plan for everything. But part of planning for exigencies is to make sure you have a good plan for peacefully convincing passengers to make room.

          If their “plan”, though, was to offer $800 in nearly impossible-to-redeem vouchers, then yes, their planning was indeed piss-poor.

          Now, had their plan been to waive $800 in cash, I might just have a little more sympathy for United.

    • I got to spend this past weekend in DC because American didn’t get the plane and crew I was supposed to get back to Dallas with up to the gate and unloaded before the crew was “timed out” and couldn’t fly by FAA reg. American didn’t have a crew to replace them, and the corporate travel agency couldn’t get me a plane back to DFW before “sometime Saturday” when I was scheduled to fly back up on Sunday. Another colleague’s wife was executive platinum and couldn’t get from La Guardia to Chicago before SUNDAY. Apparently there was bad weather all over the Midwest.

      The system has exactly ZERO slack in it; if anything much goes off, lots of people are stuck.

  42. Somebody posted a link to a blog about standing with United. When I tried to click on it, I was brought to a page that said “United Airlines Flight Attendant News”. The said article is not there anymore, the text got copied and pasted. The blog boiled down to “you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences,” basically putting most blame on the passenger. Accurate to an extent. I think the writer is ignoring the fact that it also applies to United, not just the passengers. The stock free-fall is one of those consequences. Others are likely on their way.

    • It seems the passenger would unquestionably have a right of action against United in civil court and, were I on that jury, would certainly receive a sympathetic hearing.

      I am not sure holding that right of action also entitles him to disobey an issued order to deplane.

      In a dispute it is entirely possible for all parties to be in the wrong, but even being in the right does not authorize wrongful action on your part, save where imminent threat to life and safety are involved.

      I keep in mind the advise by, IIRC, law professor Stephen Carter: at the end of the process, all law rests on the authority to commit violence, on police authority. Folks arguing for laws for every jot ant tittle of daily life would do well to remember that. It is one of the strongest libertarian arguments.

  43. I flew with both liquids and blades I didn’t know I was carrying last week. It’s kabuki

    Last year they found the bottle of hot sauce I’d left in my laptop bag (from lunch at work) and confiscated it but somehow missed the utility knife I had forgotten was in there.

    They also missed the large bottle of nail polish remover in my wife’s carry-on.

    • Sounds more like someone forgot to bring their own condiments that day…

    • One of my coworkers was flying back from Nome a while back and was in the security line along with some miners. When the TSAgent went through the first miner’s bag she pulled out some little metal rods with wires coming out the top (and twisted together), when she asked what they were the miner just said “caps”, she shrugged, put them back in the bag and waved him through. The miner behind him had the control board and batteries.

  44. Let’s break this down a bit:
    1) Should a private business be allowed to remove a customer they think to be unruly or otherwise undesirable? For instance, a man lighting up a cig in a non-smoking section.
    2) If that customer refuses to leave, should the business be able to have them removed by force?
    3) Does a person’s right to self defense still hold if they are trespassing?

    • He was neither unruly nor undesirable, and he was NOT trespassing, but in the seat he’d purchased.
      Comparing apples to kumquats is not very helpful.

      • If they ask you to leave, is that not trespassing?

        • Or: if a business ask you to leave, and you refuse to, is that not trespassing?

          • “Or: if a business ask you to leave, and you refuse to, is that not trespassing?”

            Joe, that question has been settled since the lunch counter sit-ins and the 1964 Civil Rights Act: NO, THEY DON’T.

            As long as you are within a designated victim group.

        • Its refusing to follow a command, not trespassing.

          • He’s in a place he is not supposed to be. That’s trespassing.
            He went back into a place he was removed from. Likewise.
            The cops were called in to remove a person who refused to leave after he was asked to leave. Trespassing.
            The private owners of the private property aircraft, acting according to their published policies, told someone they needed a seat for a person with a higher priority- in this case, aircrew needed somewhere else. Using their policy, they picked people at random to deplane, after offering money to do so. At that point, those people picked no longer had passage on that privately owned airplane, and the legal operators of that airplane were in their rights to ask the person to leave. That he did not means he was trespassing.

            • Joe, you can be strictly right in a legal sense, but in a PR sense, and in a “We treat our customers right” sense, you can be dead wrong.

              I don’t think United’s issue is *just* the video of a bloodied passenger, now in a hospital. I think the issue is that this is just the latest abuse, in a long stream of abuses, both big and small.

              United may have done the legal thing, but they almost certainly didn’t do the *right* thing.

        • Michael Houst

          Only if you don’t have a right to be there in the first place. As stated, he paid the price of a ticket, they let him on the plane and seated him. He’s not trespassing until they’ve reached their destination and everyone has been told to deplane. Nice try. No point.

          • Actually – no. If the door is still open, then it’s still in the boarding process (as legally defined, not as passengers usually think it’s defined), and the contract specifically states that passengers may be removed from the boarding process. So if, in accordance with the contract, they say they are not allowing his on this plane at this time, then he’s trespassing.

            Usually this is reserved for drunks, who, by being inebriated when they attempt to board the plane, are in violation of the law and removed under that clause in the contract. (Weirdly enough, you may not legally board drunks. You can sell alcohol while on the plane, but you can’t legally board someone already drunk, as per FAA regulations.)

            • The provision against drunks is in the Contract of Carriage (Rule 21 – Refusal to Transport, H (Safety), 6).

              More generally, Rule 21 begins “Whenever refusal or removal of a Passenger may be necessary for the safety of such Passenger or other Passengers or members of the crew including, but not limited to: …
              2. Passengers who fail to comply with or interfere with the duties of the members of the flight crew, federal regulations, or security directives;”
              Bottom line – I don’t think they have the right to order him off for failing to comply with an otherwise wrongful order to remove him (given the flight was NOT “Oversold” according to their own definition – which I believe UAL’s spokesman has not admitted).

              • Ugh .. now admitted, not “not admitted”.
                Anyone with admin rights – would love if my comment above got cleaned up a little. Sorry for the typo.

              • The order to remove him was not wrong (in a legal or contract sense). That’s where your argument falls down. The FAA regs matter, but the contract language matters just as much.

                The order to remove *was* wrong from a PR point-of-view, and (as Sarah states) from a customer service perspective.

    • “Does a person’s right to self defense still hold if they are trespassing?”

      Relax, Joe. That’s not even question anymore. You don’t have any right to self defense. You gave it up when you bought your airplane ticket. They can do anything they want to you. Better mind your Ps and Qs, eh?

      Besides, they didn’t beat this guy unconscious and then drag him because he was a threat. They beat and dragged him because he pissed them off.

      • My understanding is that he forced his way back on the airplane after being escorted off once.

        • You’ll have to define “forced.” The information most of us are working from is he refused to leave his seat. The situation you’re describing is completely different.

          Unless he manhandled a stewardess, the beating and dragging are still way over the top.

        • Yes that is true. He forced his way back on the plane after he was beaten bloody, forcibly removed from his seat, and dragged down the aisle. At that point, can you say the doctor was in his right mind at the time? And that says a lot for the security personnel that he managed to get away from them and back on the plane. This whole situation stinks to high heaven and I think a lot of people are starting to realize that an exchange of funds for a ticket to a seat is not a done deal like we thought.

          • He is still in the hospital. He appeared to be concussed as he wandered back, with blood running down his face. I wouldn’t call that trespassing. I’d call it, having a concussion.
            SERIOUSLY, it started because AFTER HE WAS SEATED, they ordered him to give up his seat, because.
            The man had to see patients the next day. By the rules of his profession, he’s not supposed to let anything interfere with that. And he’d PAID for his seat.
            Joe, do you seriously say that United altering the deal and making people pray they don’t alter it further is right?
            No, I don’t give a fricking damn what the fine print says. What they sell is plane seats. We all understand revoking the deal for weather or mechanical failure. But on a whim? Singling someone out? No. F*ck that.

            • I can see their side because I’ve been in the same position of having to scale out a scarce resource- in this case, space on transportation. Sometimes, due to problems you cannot foresee, you have to bump people or cargo.
              This is something you can try to plan around, but, in the end, things happen.
              And in the end, we’ll probably just have to disagree on this issue.

              • Joe, the problem with that is they did so AFTER they boarded the plane. At that point, different rules apply. The airline completely screwed the pooch on it — and this is not the first time they’ve pulled this. Less than a week ago, they did the same thing to a man who paid for a first class ticket and who was allowed to board. After he was served a complimentary drink, he was told he had to deplane because there was another “more important” person who needed his seat. He refused and was told he would be handcuffed and escorted off. He was finally allowed to be seated in Coach — between two arguing spouses who refused to sit next to one another. United oh so graciously agreed — a week later — to refund the difference between the price of a first class ticket and a coach ticket and give him a voucher for future travel. A fucking week later.

                Before you go saying what you have had to do or what the airline had the right to do, I suggest you read their contract of carriage as well as the passengers bill of rights. You will see that United figuratively shot itself in the foot and kept compounding the error by initially classifying the passenger as “unruly and disruptive”. Something the videos now coming out show he was not.

          • Their lack of planning was NOT HIS RESPONSIBILITY.

  45. Note- I do logistics as a job, and the fact that you sometimes have to bump passengers or cargo for something with a higher priority is just a plain fact of life. It is what it is, and things come up which one cannot foresee.

    • How many hours your flight crews log is something foreseeable. It’s called scheduling and companies do it for their employees all the time.

      • Yes it is. And since crews are people, unforeseen problems pop up.
        One has to adjust around the best they can, while attenuating the effects down stream.

        • As an example, the crew on the flight in question were undoubtedly logging more hours than had been foreseen. Conceivably, had the dispute continued much longer they would have been stood-down and not permitted to serve their assigned flight.

    • THAT is nice and sweet and all that crap. Fuck that. No, seriously, fuck that. I am a passenger and their lack of planning is not my emergency.
      They didn’t even reach the maximum MANDATED compensation for a bumped passenger in their offers. They could have enticed someone else to give up a seat. They chose to resort to authoritarianism instead. they forgot that customers aren’t cattle.
      They can fuck right off.

      • Sarah, I find your language deeply offensive, even if it’s about United.

        At least, so long as Judge Posner doesn’t get involved in this, because Judge Posner is a moron.

        (And as much as I am annoyed seeing that phrase repeated so often here, seeing his one of his latest concordances has softened that annoyance ten-fold. Because Judge Posner is an f’ing moron.)

        • I take that back. The more I think about it, the more I realize that foul language is necessary for talking about Judge Posner, no matter what the circumstances.

          So we might as well use foul language to discuss United too.

        • Sorry. I did get heated.

        • A point of information, for those who did not observe the origins of that local meme. It was reaction to assertions by Judge Posner, who exercises an authority granted him by the US Constitution, to the effect that the Constitution doesn’t matter, it is up to the judiciary to determine what laws should be.

          The logical incoherence of such a position should be obvious to anyone not a moron.

          But Judge Posner is a moron.

    • But that isn’t what happened here. First of all, the flight was not overbooked. They boarded, to the best of my knowledge, the ticketed passengers. The passenger in question, as well as three others, were removed because employees of the airline needed to get from Point A to Point B. The airline chose to let them fly on that particular flight instead of making other arrangements. The airline chose to agree with the union demands during contract negotiations not to move employees from Point A to Point B via ground transport. The airline chose to board passengers, thereby changing the rules under which they were bound, instead of bumping passengers while still in the terminal.

      This was not unforeseeable. This was bad judgment compounded by further bad judgment.

    • Logistics is one thing. Treating paying passengers like cargo is a very different thing.

      When you buy that ticket you are paying the airline to provide you with a specific service, namely to transport you and your luggage from point A to point B. The airline represents – but usually has disclaimers in the fine print – that it will do so on the scheduled flight you select.

      At no point does that make it ethical for the airline to remove someone who had taken his seat, nor does it make it at all reasonable to use enough force to hospitalize the passenger in question.

      This is not logistics. This is customer service.

      I don’t know what PNG thinks is customer service these days, but it isn’t what the bull does to the cow in breeding season.

      Another little clue for you: when logistics meets customer service, if customer service doesn’t win, you have a business that won’t survive. It might take a long time to die, but it *will* die.

      To take an example from closer to your backyard, why in the FUCK do you think Virgin Blue destroyed Ansett and took Qantas down several pegs. It wasn’t *just* the cheap flights, boyo. It was charging the lowest reasonable fare PLUS customer service orders of magnitude better than anything either of the two majors offered. Even being trapped in a fucking tin shed in Sydney Domestic Airport they managed a better experience than Ansett or Qantas – a lesson United ought to have learned from, and didn’t.

    • Michael Houst

      I did logistics planning with the military. Yes, stuff gets bumped all the time in that environment, and we can do whatever we want because everyone there raised their hands and said, “I do.” That’s not the same case with civilian transportation. There, you’re running a utility and the passengers are your customer. In a free market economy, you allow pricing based on availability; but once you’ve agreed to the price and presented the good or service to the person, you do NOT renege on that agreement just because a higher priority comes along, without a complete new negotiation where the customer at least retains his initial value. Let me make it simple for you. You want to make it worth my while to agree to your bait and switch offer, or are you just going to steal from me and then beat the crap out of me because I don’t agree?

  46. I’m just going to copy and paste what I wrote on Facebook this morning:

    I don’t ordinarily weigh in on current events, mostly because I am too lazy to do the research required to comment knowledgeably.
    And I’ll admit that I haven’t done much research on the recent United Airlines scandal.
    This having been said, I do want to address what seems to me to be the attitude underlying the escalation of events that led up to the videos that have been posted on-line.
    One article that I read on the subject stated succinctly, “Operations should never impinge on delivery.”
    As I understand the situation, the problem arose when a flight was fully booked by United (not, it seems, overbooked, simply full) and the decision was made to remove paying passengers to make room for United employees who were scheduled to work a flight in the destination city.
    It seems to me that there is where the problem began and where it should have been handled. If someone in management had stopped and said, “This plane is full of paying customers–we need to find a different way to get the crew from Chicago to Louisville” then we wouldn’t now be talking about this.
    The fact that denying service to people who had already bought a ticket (much less actually boarded the aircraft) in order to accommodate staff was seen as the proper way to handle the logistic issue betrays a serious lack of understanding of the business/customer relationship.
    Yes, I understand that it is most cost effective to move staff from work area to work area by putting them on aircraft that are already making that trip. However, when you prioritize that over serving your customers then you are putting the cart before the horse.
    I am quite sure that there were other options. Were there no other flights that the crew members have taken–either on United or another carrier?
    It’s about five hours by car from Chicago to Louisville. Renting a passenger van and a driver would have been expensive, granted, but it would have allowed all those who had paid for a ticket and had planned their trip to do so.
    Failing both of these options, were there no qualified flight personnel who could have been moved from another facility?
    And more to the point, did the management consider any other options before making the decision to bump customers to make room for staff? Was that option considered a last resort, or the first?

    • It may be that delaying the awaiting flight for 5 hours would mean you get a ripple effect on the passengers on the waiting airplane in Chicago, which means that those passengers miss their connecting flights, and so on.
      Better to inconvenience 5 than to inconvenience 30.

      • Tell that to the patients the doctor needed to see the next day. Geeze.

      • Michael Houst

        Oh boo hoo. That happens all the time due to weather conditions and they don’t need to screw people over for that.

      • My point is that “kicking paying passengers off a flight” and “making another flight late” were NOT the only two options. United could have staffed the flight in Louiseville by chartering a private plane, renting a van, buying the crew members tickets on another airline, finding qualified crew members in Atlanta or Memphis or Dallas or Charlottesville–were any of these options investigated before the decision was made to remove paying passengers from the plane? I seriously doubt it.

    • THIS is precisely the point. Like book publishers, they forgot what their job was. Their job is to fly people. People are their customers. They’re the reason they’re fucking in business, pardon my French.
      When you forget that and people are logistical inconveniences, you open the door to treating people like things. Inconvenient things.
      And then you get what’s coming to you. And United will.
      Simply raising the compensation or offering real cash would have got them volunteers. They chose to go authoritarian instead, because they thought the passengers were an inconvenient side effect of being in business. Screw them.

      • Note- I do agree that the better course of action is to have had the auction, and that United acted stupidly in going the authoritarian method of removing people.

      • This is why I made the point about gun control earlier. Not because its such a great safe idea to have guns on airplanes, but because governments and large businesses INEVITABLY reduce people to things.

        Front line workers will disobey an order to do something stupid if they think it might get them hurt. If it seems safe, they’ll go right ahead.

      • In this you are absolutely right. While the contract lets them do exactly as they did, it was a stupid move to do so.

    • “It seems to me that there is where the problem began and where it should have been handled.”
      Exactly. Dealing with that bit differently would have left all the other problems hidden for the foreseeable future.

  47. Maybe a year or so ago, I reread Heinlein’s Between Planets. Early on in the novel, there were two scenes that involved the hero, Don Harvey, traveling first from New Mexico to Chicago, by air, and then from Chicago to Earth orbit. In one, he was told that his luggage would be X-rayed, and that if he had film in the camera it would be fogged. In the other, he was required to hand over his ID and kept waiting while spaceport officials checked it out.

    And it hit me that when Heinlein wrote that novel, none of that sort of thing was routine. It would have hit his readings as a shocking vision of a police state future (they wouldn’t have said “dystopian” back then, and perhaps not even “authoritarian” or “repressive”), and the image of that being done in a future United States would have been hard to accept. (And Heinlein got away with putting this in a book for teenage boys!)

    It’s amazing, not just how things can change in a short time, but how we can come to take the change for granted.

    • In the last year I’ve reread his juveniles, and they have an overcrowded, over-governmented, dystopian vibe to them, except for Rocket Ship Galileo.

      • What, _Have Spacesuit, Will Travel_? I’ll grant you most of the others except, maybe, _Space Cadet_ and _The Rolling Stones_ have at least one of these. And I have my suspicions about those two (SC had the Patrol willing to bomb ANY country that they deemed necessary, while TRS didn’t show Earth society at all, and not too much of Lunar society)

        The society of _Tunnel In The Sky_ didn’t sound too oppressive – but “crowded”, yep.

        • “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel” has the worst example of government oppression there is. A galactic government that will toss your entire planet, much less species, sans sun, out without appeal, merely because they THINK you might become a threat.

      • Well, yes, mostly. Always in the beginning – the plots revolved around the nasty situation the protagonist was in – and them saying either “I’m getting out!” (Farmer in the Sky, etc.), or “Time to fight back!” (Red Planet, etc.)

        However – you missed Have Space Suit, Will Travel.

        • I will venture to argue that the depiction of the school system in Have Space Suit, Will Travel is pretty darn dystopian!

          The Three Galaxies government was less Democratic Republic than Realpolitik in its operation. The only thing preventing serious abuse of power was bureaucratic inertia.

          Citizen of the Galaxy might be best considered for its argument that our system, for all its flaws, remains what Churchill claimed for it.

          • Actually, from what I see of the current US school system the school system in Have Space Suit, Will Travel looks pretty good if not downright utopian.

            This is not a happy realization..

          • The school system – for when it was written, probably. Although there were apparently indicators back then of what was to eventually happen to it. Now, OTOH – there are parents who would fight to get their kids into such a good system.

            The Three Galaxies was a stretch. Note that they were all more “advanced” than human cultures (common theme) – and had a “police” race that apparently was genetically altruistic.

            Citizen of the Galaxy – I considered it, but the human governmental structure in the central civilization seems to be more of an economic aristocracy (actually almost rhymes with Bester’s The Stars My Destination – “Rudbek, of Rudbek”). Or, actually, closer to the English aristocracy for a time, that of course had nothing to do directly with pirates and slavers…

      • All the smart people said we’d be way overpopulated.
        I think it’s bullsh*t.

        • That’s because you came *mumble* years later, when the obvious flaws in the smart people’s worldview, and the Law of Unintended Consequences had time to make themselves felt. (As well as the gods of the copybook headings.)

          If you take for granted that of course everybody’s going to have 2-6+ kids (If I recall correctly, Podkayne and Clark got their trip after their 4 siblings were unfrozen ahead of schedule), then of course with unlimited power, food, and medical advances, the crowding will go up.

          They didn’t foresee the shift from “children provide for us in our old age” to “children are a burden and an economic drag” going quite so quickly, or to such an extreme.

          I personally won’t be surprised if, at the end of my long life, I see it going back the other way. After all, the future will belong to the people who show up for it – and those are going to be from families who liked having kids. It’ll be an interesting time to come…

        • Oh, I don’t know. I think we’re way overpopulated with stupid people. How’s that go? Ignorance can be cured, stupid is forever?

      • But it was Rocket Ship Galileo that featured actual honest-to-God [Spoiler Alert!!!] Nazis.

        • It also featured having to speed up the launch of the space space because safety regulators were about to use the county sheriff to shut down the whole operation.

  48. This is why I prefer my motorcycle.
    24 hours and I can be damned far away from where I started, and Way cheaper, and usually faster than flying, then renting wheels, and finishing the trip (most places I need to go the nearest airline flight is still 4 or more hours away, or is more than 24 hours in flights if one is even available). If I got a call and it was “Get to Atlanta, ASAP” I’d be there in about half the time it’d take to get tickets, drive to GB or Milwaukee, get molested (actually not bad at GB, too few people for it to be a big delay . . .downside, fewer flights).
    I’d say I’d drive my truck, but the gauge panel is on the fritz, so it is headed to North Dakota to be fixxxxxed. But when it runs, I can carry more than the airlines will let me take.
    The only times I’ve flown commercial were for work, or someone else set up travel and I didn’t have the say.

    • I do not think I am physically capable of getting a bike back up after it tips over, and I know Peter isn’t. He loved riding motorcycles, though, before the back got broken. Someday, when we have more money than sense, I can see a nice three-wheeled stable thing for him, or a bike with a sidecar for me…

      I’ve only ridden on the back, but they’re a fun way to go, that’s for sure. Other than the homicidal drivers, but you get those even in cars…

      • The SkiDoo with wheels (CanAm Spyder) is in some ways too stable (it has a rather intrusive at time traction control), and someone is working on a conversion for reverse trike Harleys and Gold Wings. One even tilts like the Piaggio scooter.
        Speaking of Piaggio. I fueled one of these way back when:

  49. Although I have half of a first-class round trip ticket available on United, I’m choosing to drive to a convention ten hours away this summer rather than fly. Fortunately, it allows me to make a few stops along the way that are on my bucket list. When I do fly, it’s very hard to restrain myself from baa-ing in the TSA lines.

  50. As Tamany Hall’s Boss Tweed said,


    “[M]y constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures.”

  51. There’s a simple solution – but the US airlines will buy every politician in Washington to keep it from happening.

    Let foreign airlines operate within the United States. If Lufthansa, Singapore Air, and Cathay Pacific could provide service within the United States, American and United airlines would have to rapidly adapt or die (my bet would be on death).

    Just imagine how good American cars would be today if foreign imports weren’t allowed…

    • For that matter, it’s my understanding that car companies were reduced to the Big Three when FDR came to Chevrolet, Chrysler and Ford and requested that they create regulations for the industry. Chevrolet and Chrysler said “yes” and Ford balked at the idea; the other two companies then proceeded to regulate all the little guys out of business, while Ford just barely made it through.

      I would propose that, in addition to allowing foreign airlines to serve American cities, we ought to figure out what regulations are keeping the little guys from growing. And this applies to cars as much as to airlines.

      (And I still find it puzzling that the very people who are convinced that corporations control government want that same government to regulate corporations….)

  52. “Yes, at a noisy con, if I smile and nod when you tell me that you just grilled your neighbor with garlic, it’s because I have no idea what you said.”

    Depends on the neighbor. I’ve had some that smiling and nodding would constitute restrained reaction, but perfect understanding…. 😎

    • /sigh
      I missed an opportunity to write and publish a book before the turn of the century.
      “The Cannibalistic Cookbook for the New Millennium, or How to Have Your Neighbor for Dinner.”

  53. “When you pay for a service, you are entitled to that service. It is known as [a] “contract”. ”
    While I agree to a great extent with your concerns and consternation with flying, you might want to actually *read* the contract when you buy your airline ticket. It expressly gives the airline the right to bump you.
    Yes, it might be “unfair”. But you accepted that deal when you bought the ticket. *You* don’t get to unilaterally set the terms of the contract.

    There is plenty of blame to go around for what happened:
    – The airline crew shouldn’t have been on the last plane out to get to another city.
    – The airline for treating their crews as WalMart commodities, to be delivered “just in time”.
    – The doctor shouldn’t have been on the last plane out if he was that concerned about his morning appointments.
    – The doctor shouldn’t have been one of the last four showing up for the flight if….
    (That “random” picking scheme? At least at other airlines it includes whether you’re a frequent flyer, what class ticket you have, and *when you showed up to check in*.)
    – Everyone on the plane for noone volunteering *their* seats when the doctor protested he had patients to see. (Instead, they all grabbed their phones to record the scene.)
    – Airport security for not being trained specially to handle troublesome individuals in the tight confines of an airplane aisle.

    I hate flying nowadays, too. And the airlines contributed to that mightily (though not as much as TSA). I was supposed to travel for work from Virginia to Florida this week, and was going to take 2 days each way to drive it, instead of flying. (The trip got cancelled.)
    But, we as the customers, *have* to know what the rules are, what our contract says, and where we’re going to draw the line. BEFORE we go.

    I desperately wish I had enough money to own my own small airplane. It would be *much* more enjoyable.

    • I’ve read United’s contract of carriage. (Just now). Since the flight was not overbooked (by their own contract’s definition of overbooked), the only part of their contract that applies to this situation is Rule 21:

      UA shall have the right to refuse to transport or shall have the right to remove from the aircraft at any point, any Passenger for the following reasons:

      A. Breach of Contract of Carriage – Failure by Passenger to comply with the Rules of the Contract of Carriage.

      B. Government Request, Regulations or Security Directives – Whenever such action is necessary to comply with any government regulation, Customs and Border Protection, government or airport security directive of any sort, or any governmental request for emergency transportation in connection with the national defense.

      C. Force Majeure and Other Unforeseeable Conditions – Whenever such action is necessary or advisable by reason of weather or other conditions beyond UA’s control including, but not limited to, acts of God, force majeure, strikes, civil commotions, embargoes, wars, hostilities, terrorist activities, or disturbances, whether actual, threatened, or reported.

      D. Search of Passenger or Property – Whenever a Passenger refuses to submit to electronic surveillance or to permit search of his/her person or property.

      E. Proof of Identity – Whenever a Passenger refuses on request to produce identification satisfactory to UA or who presents a Ticket to board and whose identification does not match the name on the Ticket. UA shall have the right, but shall not be obligated, to require identification of persons purchasing tickets and/or presenting a ticket(s) for the purpose of boarding the aircraft.

      F. Failure to Pay – Whenever a Passenger has not paid the appropriate fare for a Ticket, Baggage, or applicable service charges for services required for travel, has not paid an outstanding debt or Court judgment, or has not produced satisfactory proof to UA that the Passenger is an authorized non-revenue Passenger or has engaged in a prohibited practice as specified in Rule 6.

      G. Across International Boundaries – Whenever a Passenger is traveling across any international boundary if:
      The government required travel documents of such Passenger appear not to be in order according to UA’s reasonable belief; or
      Such Passenger’s embarkation from, transit through, or entry into any country from, through, or to which such Passenger desires transportation would be unlawful or denied for any reason.

      None of these apply here, as far as I’m aware. The passenger showed up on time for boarding, did not refuse for his belongings to be searched by airport security, and so on. Which just leaves the following part of the rule:

      H. Safety – Whenever refusal or removal of a Passenger may be necessary for the safety of such Passenger or other Passengers or members of the crew including, but not limited to:
      1. Passengers whose conduct is disorderly, offensive, abusive, or violent;
      (etc.)

      And now we see why United lied about the passenger being disruptive: it was the ONLY clause in their contract that would allow them to remove him. (Since the flight was not overbooked, by their own definition). Too bad for them that the whole thing got recorded on video, proving that they lied about his being disruptive. Oops.

      The “just read the contract” argument does NOT apply here. United was in violation of their own fine print, invented a bald-faced lie to try to claim otherwise, and were caught. I hope the lawsuit ruins them.

      • “None of these apply here, as far as I’m aware.”
        Ummmm…
        “A. Breach of Contract of Carriage – Failure by Passenger to comply with the Rules of the Contract of Carriage.”
        That’s a pretty nebulous get-out-of-jail contract clause.

        Oh, and you CONVENIENTLY left out this clause under H:
        “2.Passengers who fail to comply with or interfere with the duties of the members of the flight crew, federal regulations, or security directives;”

        Sorry, but your whole argument just crumbled.
        It might not be “morally right”, but it *is* in the contract. (They can also kick you off if you’re smelly – #16. Knowing that might come in handy.)

        You also might lose a legal argument about “oversold”. First, the definition of “passenger” under Rule 1:
        “Passenger means any person, except members of the crew, carried or holding a confirmed reservation to be carried in an aircraft with the consent of the carrier.”
        Not that exception is members of the crew for that flight. (Note, nothing in there about passengers being people who paid for their flight.) The question here would be “confirmed reservation”. If the United crew that needed to get to Louisville had been approved to fly on a specific date and flight, then they could be argued to have a “confirmed reservation”. Which means that “oversold” goes into effect:
        “a flight where there are more Passengers holding valid confirmed Tickets that check-in for the flight within the prescribed check-in time than there are available seats.”
        The problem for United is, this means they absolutely should have resolved this before they ever boarded anyone.

        You want United destroyed. If you’re a conservative, you should pause and ponder the Law of Unintended Consequences if you get what you want.

        • *NOTE that exception is…..

        • I’ll address your arguments in order:

          First, “Breach of Contract of Carriage”. I originally had a separate paragraph immediately after that one explaining why it doesn’t apply, but I pulled it because my comment was getting too long already. But in brief, to argue that that applies, you have to show a specific breach of contract provisions by the passenger. (E.g., he showed up at the gate after scheduled boarding time is closed — that would be the easiest one to prove.) But as far as I’m aware, United didn’t claim this as a justification, and the passenger was not in violation of any terms of the contract.

          BTW, you’re wrong about that being a “nebulous” get-out-of-jail clause. It’s very specific. If the passenger is not in violation of the rules of the contract, this clause doesn’t apply. Yes, the contract has a lot of rules, and some of them are vaguely worded because they have to be — but the fact that other clauses are nebulous doesn’t make this one nebulous. It’s very specific.

          As for my stopping at clause 1 in that part of the contract, I didn’t read past clause 1 because that’s the clause they used to justify kicking him out; it was not a deliberate omission, convenient or otherwise. But now that I’ve looked at clause 2: it has nothing to do with this situation. Since you’re arguing that it does, perhaps you can explain how the duties of the flight crew include violating their contract (kicking someone off who had not been disruptive, in a situation where the flight was not oversold, etc.). As far as I can see, the only argument one can make for clause 2 being applicable is “The flight crew ordered him off the airplane, and when he refused to comply, then he was in violation of clause 2 and they were thus legally justified in removing him.” But that’s a circular argument, and cannot provide justification for their ordering him off the airplane in the first place.

          In order for clause 2 to be justified, they had to have a legal justification to order him off the airplane. If they did not, then he was in no way interfering with the duties of the flight crew. (I think we can take it as established that he was complying with all relevant federal regulations and security directives). And therefore, since he was not interfering with the duties of the flight crew, they were not justified in invoking clause 2 to kick him off.

          So no, my argument has NOT crumbled, and we come back to “What other part of the contract could they have used to kick him off?” And while you argue that the United employees needing to be deadheaded on that flight count as passengers, I don’t think that can apply here. The contract doesn’t list a definition of “confirmed reservation”, but it does list a definition of “confirmed reserved space“:

          Confirmed reserved space means space on a specific date and on a specific flight and class of service that has been requested by a passenger, and that UA or its agent has verified by appropriate notation on the ticket as being reserved for the accommodation of the passenger.

          That one could be argued either way, and I’m sure United’s lawyers will try to argue that this applies to their deadheading employees. (Note: “deadheading” is not at all a pejorative term here, in case you were wondering.) But if I were sitting on the jury, that wouldn’t fly with me, because the clause states “that has been requested by a passenger”, and this request came from the airline. I’ll agree that fair-minded people can hold different opinions about this one, which is why contract disputes ultimately (if not settled) end up before a jury to decide exactly how the contract applies to a given situation. But to my mind, at least, the airline’s desire to move its employees around from one place to another does not fit with the way the contract of carriage is written, and therefore they do not have a “confirmed reservation” according to the contract and thus do not count as passengers.

          Finally, I want the company destroyed by the market (lawsuits for breach of contract are part of the free market), not by the government. When a company provides piss-poor customer service, they should lose customers. That’s how the free market works. What unintended consequences should I fear in this situation? Granted, the airline industry is not actually a free market given all the government interference, and one unintended consequence of a lawsuit might be that United goes crying for Daddy Uncle Sam to bail them out. But I don’t think that’s what you had in mind. I think you were thinking that I was calling for United to be destroyed by the government, which is not what I meant. I want them destroyed by the market because customers decide they’ve had enough, and because their breach of contract costs them immensely in a fully-justified lawsuit.

          • I just learned of one more reason why clause 2 (interference with the duties of the flight crew) doesn’t apply: because the term “flight crew” has a specific meaning (italics in original replaced by boldface here since block quotes are already italicized):

            Crewmember means a person assigned to perform duty in an aircraft during flight time.

            Flightcrew member means a pilot, flight engineer, or flight navigator assigned to duty in an aircraft during flight time.

            United’s contract of carriage does not define the term “flight crew”, so the definition from the federal regulations applies here. And flight attendants are crew, but not flight crew. (And gate agents are neither of these: they are official representatives of the company, but they are not crew.) So clause 2 doesn’t require you to obey orders from the flight attendants, only from the pilots. (Or flight engineers or navigators, if such are present on your flight).

            So unless the pilot, copilot, or other flight crew member was giving the order, clause 2 of United’s CoC doesn’t apply.

        • Also, down at the bottom of this comment thread, styrgwillidar said:

          Also, those rules refer to an Oversold aircraft. That didn’t apply, it wasn’t oversold. The CEO of UA has admitted it.

          I wasn’t yet aware that the CEO has admitted that the flight wasn’t oversold. I currently only have one person’s unsupported word for that, so that’s not ironclad proof yet. But if the CEO really did make such a statement, then that’s an admission against interest because by stating that the flight was not overbooked, he destroys his company’s best argument that the removal of the passenger was justified. And in U.S. law, an admission against interest can be introduced into evidence, bypassing the rules about hearsay, and be taken as true. So in the lawsuit, the question of “was the flight overbooked?” will only be raised very briefly (assuming that styrgwillidar has correctly characterized the CEO’s statement). The passenger’s lawyers will say, “Here’s a public statement made by the CEO of United in which he admits that the flight was not overbooked. Since that’s a declaration against interest on United’s part, we can take that as true.” And from that point on, the lawsuit will proceed with “The flight was not overbooked” included in the proven facts of the suit.

          Which is a major problem for United, because if they had argued that the flight was overbooked and that justified removing the passenger, then (as I mentioned) fair-minded people could have come to the conclusion, as you have, that they were indeed within the contract. But since the United CEO has (if styrgwillidar is correct) made an admission against interest by saying that the flight was not overbooked, that line of argument is closed off, and we’re back to “United violated their contract of carriage” as the only argument that will stand.

          So if you (or anyone else reading this comment) knows where I can see the CEO’s statement for myself, I’d appreciate a link. Because his statement destroys United’s only reasonable defense in the lawsuit. Oops.

  54. Mike Stevens

    Totally agree.

    Except for the Greyhound part. Trust me, you really, really, really wouldn’t want to do that. 😜

  55. regularjoeski

    Self driving cars are a competitor United is not even seeing. ( indie vs big publishers) It is already quicker and easier to drive 5 hours compared to flying. US Air folded because many of its flights were between points less than 5 hours apart by car. As TSA theater made flying more painful and less reliable business travelers began to drive. Self driving cars will make points up to 10-12 hours by car, ie overnight, competitive. Say goodbye to anything other than transcontinental and overseas. Ask PanAm how that strategy works. Compare Virgin to any USA legacy airlines; Lower price, better service, staff, and experience. Right now airlines look profitable because they shed debt in bankruptcy. They have never fixed the issues since the execs never paid any price, see Delta/NW execs example

    • It is already quicker and easier to drive 5 hours compared to flying.

      If I am going to be there longer than two days it is easier and less frustrating to drive 12 hours instead of fly seeing my nephews and niece in Texas. Flying still requires either a connection with layover and car rental there or car rental Austin or Houston with a two hour drive after the flight. With the two hours early, waiting for luggage, and so on the 2.5 hour flight is just the middle of an 8 hour trip.

      And the cost of meals is cheaper on the ground not to mention gasoline being cheaper than airfare (even back at $4/gallon gas).

      And I have more personal space in the car.

    • They do have a plan for self-driving cars. From the Wall Street Journal (no link because there’s a paywall):

      Car’s Data Transmitter Can Be Hacked to Take Control
      An Israeli cybersecurity firm is raising fresh concerns about hackers taking control of moving cars, remotely shutting down an engine with the help of a smartphone app, a Bluetooth connection and a car’s data transmitter.

      Airlines do not need to hack into cars, they just need to publicize such stories as this.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        The plan for self driving cars is ‘Evil often dot evil mar’. The reason why the push for self driving cars will fail is that they are being pushed faster than the architecture can be redesigned from the ground up for security, and the architecture ended up insecure because they rushed the push for computer controlled emissions reduction.

      • It’s my understanding that “smart” cars are supposed to be able to communicate with each other, so that they can warn each other about traffic conditions, dangers in the road, and so forth. I don’t think this is going to work out very well, because it will mean that such cars will be susceptible to spoofing. And you can’t just encrypt the messages, because that requires knowing which cars are valid messengers, and which aren’t, and since the cars on the road will be essentially anonymous in relation to each other, there’s no getting around being able to send spoofed messages to the cars around you.

        • Oh my, a few drones dropping dozens of tiny little transmitters that claim to be cars, all saying…. well, does it matter, really? Either it creates a traffic jam or a weird traffic void.

  56. “The way to stay in business is to offer what your customers want and to be nice to them while providing it.”
    Honestly, I think United dug itself a hole years ago, and is trying desperately to fill it in any way they can – which they seem to think includes digging for dirt to fill in the hole… from the bottom of the hole.

  57. Excellent point on the morally degrading effect on the airlines of thinking of the passengers as cattle, and enemy cattle at that.

    I’ve written up a 12-page memo on the situation for my economics of regulation class because it incorporates so much of what they’ve been learning about and because the Web and the press omit so many relevant facts. I’ll add the Dao name timing to it. It’s at http://rasmusen.org/papers/united.pdf

    Prof. Eric Rasmusen, Indiana U.

  58. styrgwillidar

    About involuntarily bumping you. Well, not really, there is a written contract involved. You can be legally bumped only for those things spelled out in the contract. There’s also a law providing that those with confirmed seats must be given priority, and any action an airline takes to resolve a situation must minimize the disruption to those people. Here’s a link to UA’s contract of carriage:
    https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/contract-of-carriage.aspx

    So, Rule 25 doesn’t apply because it’s not a denial of boarding, they boarded him on a confirmed seat ticket.
    Also, those rules refer to an Oversold aircraft. That didn’t apply, it wasn’t oversold. The CEO of UA has admitted it. It’s defined under the contract (Definitions) and doesn’t include the actual situation– UA wanted to put some of their employees on the aircraft.

    So, Rule 21 is ‘Refusal to Transport’
    None of those situations actually applied in the case, except perhaps arguably Rule 21 c. However that doesn’t address refusal on one aircraft in order to facilitate the airline schedule for other aircraft. It’s for things ‘beyond UA’s control’ but seems more for disaster/act of God things- wars, weather, riots. That’s where the legal argument would be made if it ever got to court. Given UA still was required to exhaust other options (ground transport- 5 hr drive?/charter for their crew…) prior to disrupting confirmed seat pax., it will be hard to argue.

    • Read that contract a little more closely. https://accordingtohoyt.com/2017/04/12/flying-blind/#comment-442666

      And it *is* a refusal to board – crazy as it seems to regular people – because they aren’t fully boarded until the crew closes the door. (And that disconnect is why they absolutely should have handled this before letting folks on the airplane.)

      • I won’t repeat my arguments up-thread, since you’ve already been notified of them and can respond if you want. I’m just posting this little reply here so that anyone else reading this discussion will know that I have a reply to GWB up-thread: I *have* read the contract quite closely and I disagree with his understanding of it, for long reasons which aren’t worth repeating twice since you can just scroll up and read them (or click his link to go directly to that part of the discussion).

  59. Heh. On holiday with the family, so am a current beneficiary of our security Kabuki. Happily I had the opportunity to fill out an airport quality survey , and I gave them fairly high marks for cleanliness, ease of plug-ins for my cell phone, and the choice of restaurants. It was truly enjoyable (in the the you have to laugh or you’ll cry category) to pick the lowest possible mark for actual security.

    I also had a bad moment where I (used to speaking freely) commented to the Yard Ape, “..and we can thank our Muslim friends for this. I have to admit, that seconds after the words left my mouth, cold grue struck me as I thought, “Good Lord, are we going to be strip-searched and detained now.”

    I think that torqued me off more than anything.

    #!£¿¡$! commies.

  60. clark e myers

    There is a constant use of the term random or randomly selected. Odd that I be I am constantly brought up short because the process was not the least bit random. Not a stochastic process nor involving random or pseudo-random numbers in any way shape or form.

    I gather that rules as for an overbooked flight were applied to what was technically a full flight in the face of passengers with bumping rights suddenly appearing. I have not seen any references at all to where such bumping rights originated. I have seen references in discussion to industry rules for transporting flight crews to keep the system moving smoothly. I have not seen any cites to any such. I have not seen any industry rules or any regulation in general terms that would give priority to keeping the system running smoothly. Anybody run across any suggestion any place that gives priority to moving flight crews around?

    I suspect but do not know that the travelling flight crew was already on the clock for work hours before a mandatory rest. People have died when pilots were tired after traveling for hours then flying. It may well be that the suggestion of a rental car was flat out because any longer trip and a mandatory rest would have kicked in to disrupt the subsequent flight or maybe not.

    Although a blind in some sense or even double blind selection process in the sense of ignoring many personal attributes such as gender or social class the selection process was determined and some hypothetical passengers had a negligible chance of selection while others had a much higher chance of selection – based on more or less impersonal characteristics. United Airlines directors bump everybody, revenue passengers bump non revenue passengers in a cascading series of company rank and seniority.

    The flight was not overbooked, it was full. Overbooked rules do not apply. Boarded might be a term of art and it might be interpreted in a common understanding way. In a contract of adhesion it is not obvious how a court might interpret boarded given a rule of interpreting against the drafter. Terms are not given any technical industry meaning in the body I’ve seen – not included in the notice required by industry regulations. Maybe there is an incorporation by reference of industry usage and maybe there is an incorporation by pattern or past court action or past mediation. Parties can notoriously by agreement specify that white means black but if they don’t ordinary meaning may even should apply. If boarded be given a common meaning then United likely looses if not maybe not.

    Airbus might have had fewer hull losses if folks had preflown some airshow stunts and such in a simulator with good flight logic. Flight logic matters. FREX when the thrust reversors deployed in flight on one of Nicki Lauda’s charters Boeing first simulated by simply simulating a flight with the whole engine reversing on the pylon and found it recoverable. With a little more thought folks realized that more than force reversed. Turbulant air over and under the wing made such instant disasters with no recovery possible.

    Similarly Airbus could have a better response than the system saying the aircraft is trimmed all wrong for what you are trying to do when it is a corner case on the flight logic – so the system will ignore control inputs – maybe by making all the adjustments to do what the control inputs suggested.

    In less extreme circumstances of controlled flight into terrain Airbus flight rules would have saved a bunch of people who died by Boeing flight rules. As usual a cascade of small mistakes culminating in a hull loss.

    “On April 3, 1996, a United States Air Force Boeing CT-43A (Flight IFO-21) crashed on approach to Dubrovnik, Croatia, while on an official trade mission. The aircraft, a Boeing 737-200 originally built as T-43A navigational trainer and later converted into a CT-43A executive transport aircraft, was carrying United States Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and 34 other people, including The New York Times Frankfurt bureau chief Nathaniel C. Nash.[2] While attempting an instrument approach to Dubrovnik Airport, the airplane crashed into a mountainside. Air Force Technical Sergeant Shelly Kelly survived the initial impact, but died en route to hospital. Everyone else on board died at the scene of the crash. [3]”
    ……..
    The investigation board determined that the approach used was not approved for Department of Defense aircraft, and should not have been used by the aircraft crew.[9] The board determined that the particular NDB approach used required two operating ADFs, the instrument used to fly such an approach, on board the aircraft, but this aircraft only had one ADF installed. To successfully fly the approach, one ADF was required to track the outbound course of 119° from the Kolocep NDB (KLP), while another ADF was required to observe when the aircraft had flown beyond the Cavtat NDB (CV), which marked the missed approach point. Further, the board noted that the approach was rushed, with the aircraft flying at 80 knots (150 km/h) above the proper final approach speed, and had not received the proper landing clearance from the control tower.[9]

    The crash site, on a 2,300 ft (700 m) hill, was 1.6 miles (2.6 km) northeast of where the aircraft should have been on the inbound course to the NDB. The published NDB approach brings the inbound aircraft down a valley, and has a minimum descent height of 2,150 ft (660 m) at the missed approach point (where they should have climbed and turned to the right if the runway was not in view), which is below the elevation of the hills to the north. The runway is at 510 ft (160 m) MSL. Five other aircraft had landed prior to the CT-43A and had not experienced any problems with the navigational aids. There was no emergency call from the pilots, and they did not initiate a missed approach, even though they were beyond the missed approach point when they hit the hill at 2:57 PM local time.[4][5]

    An Airbus might well have suggested to the flight crew that they were doing this all wrong – maybe not. In any event at well past the last minute the Air Force crew tried to climb and turn right. An Airbus would have taken the control inputs and automatically and so quickly configured flaps and slats and throttle and trim to make that climbing turn. Boeing left it to the flight crew who didn’t get it done.

    Interesting also to notice the Airport Police, gate guards, are a pure patronage job. They exist for favored City of Chicago employees to double dip as by collecting full retirement pay from the regular police and full salaries and benefits from the not the same organization airport police. Dr. Pournelle has suggested a man in a patronage job at least answers to his patron while a servant when he’s master is not a good thing at all. Lots of LEO discussion to the effect that a wise officer – certainly post Ferguson – will simply tell United there’s no disturbance and so United can handle it unless or until a passenger starts something.