My thoughts on the United Deboarding Debacle

Imagine you rent a hotel room for the night in New York. The hotel is privately owned but the land it is on is being leased from the city.

You made your reservation 4 months ago and you check in. You are assigned room 216 and you go there, unpack your things, and get ready for bed.

As you are falling asleep, you receive a loud knock on the door saying that you must vacate the room immediately. The hotel owner’s family has arrived in town and they need a place to sleep. They’ll pay you some money and you can come back and sleep tomorrow night. You tell them to go away, that you paid for the room, and you are already in bed.

A few minutes later the police break down the door and drag you from your bed.  You end up bloodied and with a concussion.

Now, perhaps the hotel was within it’s rights and within their contract with you to kick you out. Horrible customer service, but perhaps within their rights.

I would say that the police should not have become involved so quickly with a civil (contractual) matter. Even in clear cases of (non-violent) trespassing (and I would say this is far from that), most police would rarely become physical to remove someone within a few minutes of arriving on the scene.

I know a lot of us are trying to clarify what the “real” story is here. I would say one of the real stories here is the fact that police in America (specifically at airports) have become enforcers of corporations’ rules.  Is that what we want our police to be?

United showed just how incompetent they are in this situation.  However, if they didn’t have armed uniformed police ready to carry out whatever they ask with no due process, I am guessing they would change some of their corporate policy.

I am sure there are holes in my scenario above but trying to put it in to a parallel context.  What do you think?

3 thoughts on “My thoughts on the United Deboarding Debacle”

  1. I’m saddened by the actions of United and the police in this matter. The fact that United needed to move employees to another airport is not the concern of paying customers. Find them a flight elsewhere on another airline. I would have serious doubts about flying on United in the future and that’s sad. Corporations over people. Seems to be the way, Welcome to the new United States.

  2. Without significant competition at many airports, the major airlines can take an attitude that they are carrying cargo like any other That the cargo is alive and human occasionally escapes their view. American and United dominate Chicago O’Hare, for example.
    In addition, we’ve allowed mergers of airlines since 2000 that have eliminated competition. The argument is that they needed to grow bigger to compete against non-US airlines. Maybe. But the result is as described above, that in many cities, a passenger doesn’t have much choice of airline if s/he wants to fly.
    The travel websites such as Expedia and Kayak need to incorporate the airlines’ customer service into their ratings of prices. Or at least note with their note of “best deal” that you’ll be treated like a piece of air cargo (or perhaps worse) if you fly on an airline.
    Thanks to a piece in the New York Times for stirring these thoughts


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