Adults lacking. The United Airlines fiasco second video.

The trouble with Americans is they feel “privileged” over about anything today. That mistake causes them to make bad decisions.  When the “privilege” meets the police, those bad decisions end up on video and solidify a narrative that is often wrong- like Michael Brown’s “hands up don’t shoot.”

For this reason and this reason alone, I’m going to defend the police here. Not United, not the crazy regulations and laws, not the TSA etc.  Just the cop standing over an idiot and wondering how this is not going to play out well for either of them.

Here is a second video showing the first part of the confrontation.  The passenger is being “privileged.” Now think about this. ONE MAN is affecting the movement of hundreds of innocent people over a legitimate dispute about his travel. This happens all the time, but usually the person realizes the bigger picture and finds a better solution.  But not here.  Not “I’m a Doctor” Dao.

From the Blaze.

In the new video, two Chicago aviation officers are seen standing at the end of the aisle on board the plane where Dao was seated. But as one can assume from watching the now-viral video, Dao refused to leave, saying he had to be at work the next day.

“I won’t go. I’m [a] physician. I have to work tomorrow. 8:00,” Dao said, appearing to be on his cellphone while speaking with the officers.

“I tell you … to make a lawsuit against United Airlines,” Dao said just moments later.

Confronted again by officers, Dao reiterated, “No, I am not going.” That’s when one officer threatened to “drag” him instead.

Dao replied: “Well, you can then drag me. I don’t go. I’m not going. I’m staying right there.”

“They’re trying to use force,” Dao then said, still talking on his phone.

“This can be a lot harder—” one officer told Dao, urging him to exit the aircraft.

“I’d rather go to jail,” Dao replied.

“Rather go to jail than just get off?” the officer asked.

“Yeah,” Dao said.

You can see the passenger is on the phone, apparently with a lawyer wanting to start a lawsuit, BEFORE he is subjected to any physical contact by the police.  He also tells the police in essence “I ain’t f-ing leaving! You are going to have to throw me off!” The trouble with this approach is the man has moved from a legal, policy, “United Airlines is wrong” argument to a simpler equation- him vs the police.  If the officer reaches down and his hand is swatted away or the guy fights, it is now ONLY ABOUT THOSE TWO. This may be taking place on a plane, but it is repeated on the street a million times a year when some person decides today is the day they are going to fight the police.  And a million times a year, they lose.

Plus the officer is tasked with removing this passenger so the hundred or so other people can leave, and the crew can get to the other flight so those people can travel.  So what choice did he have?  You also have to realize the officer was acting in good faith. He is employed by an agency that told him to follow orders. He was ordered to this location and told to remove an uncooperative passenger. The “why” isn’t important in this case. He is assuming- in good faith- that they aren’t asking him to commit a crime.

Image result for united airlines passenger removal

Once this starts happening, you have made the wrong choice. Be a good citizen and comply. Then follow the law for redress and compensation. That way you keep your teeth in your head. Idiot.

Dao should have been a good citizen and chose to handle this in a more civilized manner. Get up, follow the officer’s commands and get off the plane. Reschedule his appointments, then file a complaint, a lawsuit, and get his obligatory CNN interview where the talking head asks if possible racism was the issue.  You know the drill.  But the fact is he resisted a lawful command with plenty of opportunity to be an adult rather than a privileged 10 year old stomping his feet.  In the end, he lost teeth, got a concussion and yes he will be richer, but not better.

Was it worth it?

Obviously, one problem is the law. What laws applied, did United have the right to force him off etc.  However, nobody knows exactly as we see by the websites arguing over which law applied and which doesn’t.

“…As a direct result, the government adopted a rule which permits a carrier to deny boarding to a ticketed passenger, but only after going through a process of seeking other passengers to give up their seats.

United’s Rule 25, as its title clearly implies, applies only to denied boarding. Thus, it uses the word “denied boarding,” and variants such as “deny boarding,” but says nothing about requiring passengers who have already boarded to give up their seats.

Indeed, it states in part, using the word “boarding” twice, that: “other passengers may be denied boarding involuntarily in accordance with UA’s boarding priority.

Clearly, a “boarding priority” does not include or imply an involuntary removal or refusal of transport.  Moreover, under well accepted contract law, any ambiguous term in a contract must be construed against – and in the way least favorable to – the party which drafted it.

So, even if United argued that there was some ambiguity in “denied boarding” based upon “boarding priority” – and that it could possibly mean removal based upon a removal priority – a court would be forced to rule against this interpretation because United drafted the contract.

This denied boarding rule, and similar rules applying to Great Britain and the European Union, only permit denying boarding, not removing a passenger who has already boarded.  The situations under which airlines are permitted to have a passenger who has already been boarded disembark are contained in a completely separate section the United’s COC entitled “Refusal of Transport.”

Rule 21, entitled “Refusal of Transport,” is very different because it clearly and expressly covers situations in which a passenger who has already boarded the plane can be removed.  It states clearly: “Rule 21, Refusal of Transport, 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.” [emphasis added]

The rule, which unlike the denied boarding rule does provide for removal “from the aircraft at any point,” lists some two dozen justifications including: unruly behavior, intoxication, inability to fit into one seat, medical problems or concerns, etc.  But nowhere in the list of some two dozen reasons is there anything about over booking, the need to free up seats, the need for seats to accommodate crew members to be used on a different flight etc.

This is very important because, under accepted legal principles, a law or rule which lists in detail several different factors must be read not to include other factors which were deliberately not included or listed.  So, for example, if a rule provides that a license to drive a car may be forfeited by violations of laws governing speeding, intoxication, reckless driving, or driving without a license, it cannot be read to also permit license revocation for parking violations, or for having a burned out license plate illumination light.

In this case, the failure to include over booking, or the need for additional seats, in a long list of justifications for removing a passenger “from the aircraft at any point” means that passengers may not be removed for these non-listed reasons.

The conclusion is further reinforced by the fact that there is a completely separate section of United’s COC which does deal expressly with the need for additional seats, but it provides that the concern must be dealt with by preventing passengers from boarding, not ejecting them once they have boarded. …”

Another website points out where the problems lie.

There are a lot of myths about the situation, and it’s leading people to some bad conclusions.

  • This didn’t happen because United sold too many tickets. United Express (Republic Airlines) had to send four crew members to work a flight the next morning. The weekend was operationally challenging, this was a replacement crew, if the employees didn’t get to Louisville a whole plane load of passengers were going to be ‘bumped’ when that flight was cancelled, and likely other passengers on other flights using that aircraft would have their own important travel plans screwed up as well.

  • United couldn’t have just sent another plane to take their crew even if they had such a plane it’s not clear they had the crew to operate it legally, or that they could have gotten the plane back to Chicago in time legally so prevent ‘bumping’ via cancellation the whole plane load of passengers it was supposed to carry next.

  • If the passenger could have just taken Uber, why not the crew? because United doesn’t get to transport its crew any way it wishes whenever it wishes, they’re bound by union contracts and in any case they were following standard established procedures. We can debate those procedures, that’s productive, but United didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.

United should have just kept increasing the denied boarding offer passengers didn’t willingly get off at $800, they should have gone to $1000 (would that have made a difference?) or $5000 or $100,000 — it’s not the passengers’ fault United didn’t have enough seats. Though the time this would have taken might have lost a takeoff window or taken time where the crew went illegal (and the whole flight had to cancel) or the replacement crew wouldn’t get the legally required rest.

More importantly, United didn’t do it because Department of Transportation regulations set maximum required compensation for involuntary denied boarding (in this case 4 times the passenger’s fare paid up to a maximum of $1350). So they’re not going to offer more than that for voluntary denied boardings, especially since the violent outcome here wasn’t expected and the United Express gate agent had no authority to do more.

So next time, if the police show up and you are on a rant, think twice.  The long term outcome of being civilized will be the same.  Choosing to fight, in that moment men and women, who are tasked to keep the peace, serves no purpose, but may make your dentist richer.

 

 

 

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