United blew this one on so many levels its hard to know where to start….but how about we begin with the basic economics of this thing:
When an airline overbooks and then asks you to voluntarily give up your seat… give is the wrong word…they want to buy it from you with a voucher or maybe some cash. The voluntary part is where you decide if what they’re offering is worth your trouble. In other words….what would you sell your ticket for? A thousand bucks… 5 thousand? 500? Everybody’s got their price. In Chicago a few Sundays ago…. United reportedly offered a thousand dollars to anyone who’d sacrifice their seat on the flight to Louisville. No takers. Obviously it wasn’t enough— so put up more. And If you don’t have more cash…put a couple 1st class tickets to Paris on the table or perhaps a couple hundred thousand frequent flier miles. I guarantee you passengers will be racing out the cabin door to claim that deal. Expensive? Yup…but if they really needed those seats, they should been willing to pay whatever it took to get 4 more passengers to walk off that plane under their own power. In fact, the airline should be legally bound to do that. Forcibly taking back something you’ve already sold to me…that’s downright unamerican and that’s a good bit of why folks are so furious about this. That along with the disgusting video.
Unfortunately, as of now …. United still has the absolute right to do what it did. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. And perhaps the rules need to be changed? Whatever happened to that Passengers’ Bill of Rights…and why wasn’t the right to not be forced out of the seat you bought?
Meantime there is a lesson here for the airlines….though its probably not the one you want. Sure you can treat us like crap…and we’ll keep coming back. But you better not try to flush.