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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Monday, April 17, 2017

United, You Failed Us

by Dr. Jack Sternberg, Contributing Author:  Below is a multiple-choice test. Choose the answer(s) that are true and accurate and really happen.A. You have made reservations for you, your wife and friends at your favorite restaurant for your anniversary celebration. You all arrive at 7:00 PM for your long awaited special evening. When you arrive, the maitre-de informs you that the restaurant always overbooks their reservations, all tables are full and you will be unable to have dinner at the restaurant tonight. We’re sorry but that is our policy.

B. You and your date have purchased tickets to a concert at the downtown performing arts theater. You pre-paid dearly for these tickets and you are in the third row, seats 15 & 16. You arrive early and find your seats. A few minutes later, the manager of the theater comes to you and says that two VIP’s have wanted to see the concert and you will have to give up your seats to them. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.

C. You and your family are going on an out of town vacation and you have made confirmed reservations at a luxurious hotel. You have a reservation number in hand. You have given them your credit card number and arrive from the airport anticipating a great stay at this hotel. On arrival, the hotel tells you that yes, you have a confirmed reservation but no hotel rooms are available due to overbooking and because of a huge convention in town, there are no other hotel rooms available in the entire city.

D. You have a confirmed seat on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky. You made your reservation months in advance and paid with your credit card and that money has already been paid to United Airlines. You have boarded the airplane and are sitting in your seat, next to your wife, when it is announced that you and three others have to de-plane and give your seat to United Airline employees. Three others leave voluntarily but you refuse and airport police literally drag you off the airplane, pulling you down the aisle while your face is bloodied. The airline claims it is all your fault because you wouldn’t follow “the rules.”
The correct answer is of course, D). How and why can this possibly happen? Because the FAA (the Government) has made a rule that it is legal and acceptable for airlines to intentionally overbook flights and the airlines have the right to make you deplane and give up your seat at their insistence (for any reason). The airline has the legal right to deny you boarding to the airplane and the right to have you leave the airplane if you’ve already boarded. Yes, there are rules about how such an inconvenienced person has to be compensated, but that person has no recourse with the airline against being forced to leave the airplane or miss their flight. What other business in America can legally treat paid customers in this fashion and with impunity?

A, B & C above could theoretically happen but it would be highly unlikely because these businesses have no legal authority to treat patrons that way (unlike the airlines), nor would they want to. Their continued business depends on excellent caring service and the goodwill of the patrons. With less and less competing airlines, passengers have fewer choices and therefore put up with these abuses and indignities.

So, how often does this happen? It occurs more often that you would think or be willing to accept, but until recently, few knew about it.

According to the Associated Press, last year, United Airlines FORCED 3,765 people off oversold flights and another 62,895 United Airlines passengers volunteered to give up their seats, probably in exchange for travel vouchers. And United ranks in the middle of U.S. carriers when it comes to bumping passengers. Overall, 40,000 passengers were FORCED off airplanes last year and 434,000 gave up seats voluntarily on the country’s 12 largest airlines.

So, what’s the appropriate solution? I believe the government has no right to legally empower a private company to abuse their clients by allowing overbooking. One has to wonder if back in the 1970’s when this rule was imposed if it was due to lobbyist for the airlines influencing legislators to take the side of airlines over people. If you buy and pay for a seat on a flight, it should be your seat. If you don’t show up and don’t notify the airline ahead of time (unless your connecting flight gets in late), you should lose the money you paid (think about it, hotels/motels have just such a policy if you don’t show up for your reservation and don’t call within a specified period of time, you’re charged for the room. That’s why they require your credit card number when you make your reservation).

No matter what occurs in the future, no one should ever be forcibly and violently removed from an airplane if they haven’t done anything to deserve it and they are no threat to airline or passenger safety.
Jack Sternberg, MD, is a retired medical doctor and former Chairman of the Garland County TEA Party Patriots in Arkansas, and a contributor to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Jack Sternberg, United Airlines, failed us  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 8:30 AM - Post Link


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