The United Fiasco From A Cockpit Viewpoint

Chris Manno is an airline pilot/blogger whose posts I’ve always found to be informative. Here is his take on the United P/R fiasco

The JetHead Blog


I’ve been a captain at the world’s largest airline for over 25 years now, which is why this involuntary deplaning of a United Express passenger is both sad business and not at all surprising. Here’s why.

air oversold

First, passenger service has become, for airline management, an irrational but deliberate choke point in the airline flight operations. And here’s the death blow to passenger service: at the gate, in the heat of the departure time battle, the airlines field their lowest paid, least experienced workers and impose the highest, most rigid standards–close the aircraft door, dispatch the revenue unit.

They arm these hapless, stressed-out workers little or no authority–just do what you’re told.  Typically, the worst circumstances exist “after hours,” meaning after 5pm when airport and airline managers are gone for the day.

Then hourly, often contract workers are left with little authority, no flexibility (SOMEONE would deplane…

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2 responses to “The United Fiasco From A Cockpit Viewpoint

  1. NavyDavy

    When you go thru the boarding gate you leave your civil rights behind. If your told to “get off the airplane” you head for the exit, if you have a problem with this then you and your lawyer should tell it to the Judge. I don’t need to be strapped into a pressurized tube at 40K feet and 500 kts with a nut job that I can’t get away from.

    • Bill Brandt

      Upon further reflection I think the way that this passenger acted was no different from an unruly bar patron – who gets the “86” from a bar bouncer. As you say, when a law officer tells you to move, most of us would move whether we like it or not.

      While in this case as I understand it, United was trying to fly a crew to meet another plane. So take your pick, this bozo doesn’t leave, stranding a few 100 passengers on a connecting flight.

      But I have read of other cases that are a bit more murky.

      A fellow needed to get back to LA fast from Hawaii and pays the top price, $1,000 for a first class seat. He too, is told to leave because the plane before departure has a mechanical issue and they are moving to a smaller plane. And at least from the article his inference was that they wanted to give the seat to a more frequent (read high dollar) passenger.

      But ultimately in this case I am with you – the passenger acted like an ass and once ordered by airport security should have left.

      In the real world though I suspect United will have to settle.

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