Fly the Friendly Skies
The video of the passenger being forcibly dragged off the United Airlines flight was very disturbing. Social Media has come up with some really good lines like, “United Airlines, we put the hospital in hospitality” and, “We will drag you any place in the world.”
Some people are saying that twitter has been deleting their comments. On CBS this morning, I saw Charlie Rose start to offer a comment on the incident, when someone on his microphone cut in and he immediately changed the subject.
United Airlines stock is down 3.45% as of this morning. The CEO of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz, has said that the doctor was being disruptive, belligerent, and causing a disturbance. He has apologized for “having to re-accommodate” these customers. Spare me that “re-accommodation”. What he failed to do was to give a humane, decent, and sincere apology for the bullying and abusive tactics of both the United employees and the security personnel.
United failed Economics 101. When you offer $800 to passengers to give up their seats and no one accepts, you should up the ante to $900 and keep going until people accept; it could have gone up to $1,350. It’s the simple law of Supply and Demand.
When you arbitrarily stop making offers and impose your “power” to select passengers to evict, you are doing what all failed economic systems do: trying to impose a standard on the free market. It’s why Medicaid doesn’t have enough doctors, and why the stores in Venezuela have empty shelves. With enough money offered someone will eventually volunteer to offer their seat.
On another disturbing level, this incident reflects the continued erosion of our individual rights. When you purchase an airline ticket and board a plane, you put yourself and your family in the control of the airline. The airline is responsible for your safety. There’s also a contract here – you paid your fare, you peacefully take your seat and you expect to be flown to your destination. You expect to be safe and secure, to be treated with respect, free from bullying and violence. Being forcefully ejected from your seat and dragged down the aisle is not one of your reasonable expectations.
The bottom line here is that a company that enjoyed over a billion dollar profit last year chose to violently evict a passenger, rather than offer to pay a few dollars more.
Someday a jury may get to decide whether this passenger will be entitled a few dollars more.