United Airlines is to customer experience what rain is to campfires. The fact that no one was willing to accept $800 to get a later flight probably says a lot about the death of the middle classes. However, it was his own death which Vietnamese-American doctor David Dao was calling for when he was dragged off United Express flight 3411.
“Just kill me” pleaded the bloodied and bruised doctor as he was forcibly removed from the plane. The incident, which Dr Dao has since said was worse than his experiences of the Vietnam War, has been viewed by millions.
Emirates airline even created a parody video to highlight quite how ridiculous it all was (and to show that the Emirates experience is slightly more enjoyable). However, to add even more fuel to the fire, similarly disgruntled United Airlines passengers are creeping out of the woodwork – including Amber Maxwell and Michael Hohl, who were kicked off a plane on the way to their wedding.
The couple, from Park City, Utah, were boarding a flight from Utah to Costa Rica when they saw that a man was sprawled across their seats on row 24. As the man was asleep, they decided to sit in row 21. “We thought, ‘not a big deal,’ it’s not like we are trying to jump up into a first-class seat,” Michael told KHOU-TV. “We were simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat.”
When a flight attendant asked about how they had ended up in these seats, they explained why and asked if it would be possible to get an upgrade. They were told to sit in their assigned seats and having gone back to row 24, a US marshal then escorted off the plane.
Of course, there are always two sides to a story. United Airlines have stated that the couple were being belligerent and “repeatedly attempted” to sit in Economy Plus, a section which commands higher prices than the standard economy section. “They said that we were being disorderly and a hazard to the rest of the flight, to the safety of the other customers,” a spokesperson explained.
The statement claimed that no air marshal or police were involved, stating that the couple were asked to leave the plane by United Airlines employees: “They were asked to leave the plane by our staff and complied.”
It seems that this isn’t the only non-Dr-Dao-related customer service incident aboard a United Airlines flight. A man on a flight from the very same airport was stung on the head by a scorpion (which, ironically, would seem more fitting for an Emirates flight).
Furthermore, a passenger on a flight from Kauai to Los Angeles was reportedly threatened with handcuffs for refusing to relinquish his $1,000 seat to “somebody more important”. Amid the many reports of run-ins with United Airlines, there have also been rumblings about Dr Dao’s questionable past which reportedly includes fake prescriptions, charges of stalking and the suspension of his license.
What is abundantly clear however, is that United Airlines have not yet weathered the turbulence in this PR disaster. As for the young couple, they were compensated with a discounted hotel room for Saturday night and were booked onto a flight yesterday morning. Their wedding is still planned for Thursday.