The recent incident in which a customer was dragged off of a United Airlines flight has been the subject of much discussion and controversy. However, amidst all the confusion surrounding the event, one thing should remain abundantly clear: The airline in charge of operating the flight should be held responsible for the incident, not the law enforcement officers who were called onto the plane.
United Airlines Express Flight 3411 was scheduled to depart from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago and arrive in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 9, according to USA Today. After the flight had boarded, passengers were offered to give up their seats to make room for four crew members who needed to be on a flight departing from Louisville the following day. Passengers were offered monetary compensation to disband and take a later flight, but no one accepted the incentive.
Four individuals were then randomly selected to leave, which included Dr. David Dao, who emphatically refused to do so. In response, two officers from the Chicago Department of Aviation were called and were later joined by a third officer. When Dao still refused to leave, he was dragged off the plane by the officers.
Footage of the incident was posted online and resulted in considerable social media backlash for the airline, according to CNN.
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On April 13, United Master Executive Council -- the union representing United's pilots -- added its voice to the mix of criticism through a letter.
The letter stated that passenger safety is of high priority to the pilots and that they have become "infuriated" by the event, according to Yahoo! Finance. They also suggested who is to blame for the incident.
"This occurred on one of our contracted Express carriers, separately owned and operated by Republic Airlines, and was ultimately caused by the grossly inappropriate response by the Chicago Department of Aviation," the council wrote.
While the pilots were right to condemn the situation as a whole, their assertion shows that they do not recognize who was truly at fault in this situation.
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The officers -- who are part of the Chicago Department of Aviation, according to the Chicago Tribute -- who removed Dao from their flight were simply doing their job by responding to a call made by the flight's crew. While their actions may have been extreme, they would never have been placed in the difficult position they found themselves in if the employees of the airline operating the flight had made better decisions.
As the council stated in their letter, the flight was operated by a Republic Airlines crew on behalf of United Airlines. While United, who contracted Republic, should indeed share some of the responsibility, the incident was clearly the fault of the Republic crew, who demonstrated gross incompetence during its occurrence.
The whole incident occurred because the airline was unable to figure out an appropriate way of getting the four crew members to Louisville on time without disrupting their paying customers. However, there was a myriad of ways in which they could have easily accomplished both goals.
"Airport agents at most airlines are quite good at handling situations like this before the plane is booked and many customers are actually quite eager to give up their seat for a free trip or some cash," Former Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza told Fox Business when speaking about the incident. "If that gate crew had the ability to create the four seats for the crew members before the flight got boarded, I don’t think we ever would have had this issue."
Simply put, the Republic employees should have recognized that they did not have enough seats before the plane was boarded. This would have made people more open to the idea of accepting monetary compensation in exchange for giving up their seats.
Even though the crew did not realize their mistake until after boarding occurred, the situation could still have been salvaged. For example, the four crew members could have been placed on another airline's flight in order to make it to Louisville on time.
With all of this in mind, it is clear that this event was an example of professional incompetence. Instead of looking for a creative solution, the Republic crew took the easy way out and resorted to calling law enforcement. They should therefore be held responsible for the entirety of the situation.