Beating up a paying customer, probably not too smart!

It’s hard to imagine that customer service in the airline industry could get any worse, but thanks to United Airlines it just did.
We’ve all seen the American-Vietnamese medical doctor beaten up and dragged off an United Airlines flight simply because they wanted the seat he had paid for and was occupying for one of their own.
I guess the unsuspecting customer did not read the 4-point font, airline cover-your-ass legal document that goes with buying a ticket. I knew airlines overbooked, but I did not know that I could involuntarily be kicked off a plane just because an airline employee wanted my seat.
There is something morally wrong with an industry that is able to sell more seats than they have. Isn’t that fraud? What farmer can sell twice as much grain as he’s produced and when the last buyer comes to pick up, you say, “Oh, sorry, we’ll fill our commitment next year”!
Airlines talk incessantly about not being able to make money and stay competitive. Really?  If fuel costs go up, passengers pay a fuel surcharge. We now pay for food, baggage, head phones (until airlines stop providing on-line entertainment), and pathetic pillows or blankets. We pay to sit in the emergency row or the bulk head, for a seat that has a couple more inches of butt room, to pick a seat early or to change the date or time of a flight.
In the meantime, they short the food supply so that they always sell out, often leaving the back of the plane hungry. They overbook and screw with their customer’s itinerary.  They pack so many bodies into a space that except for those under five feet tall, there is no room for arms, legs or shoulders! It will only be a matter of time before they introduce stand-up spots and remove seats all together.
Even though I find it sad that not one United Airlines crew member tried to intervene and stop the beating, I don’t totally blame them either. They likely would have been fired. With big corporations, front-line staff are often under immense pressure to perform.
One of the most costly items for airlines are delays. My guess, crew bonuses are tied to on-time landings and takeoffs and their job security is tied to shutting up and doing what they’re told.
Oh, how easy it would have been for United to up the ante when their first offer was too low for passengers to turn their personal plans upside down.  If an entire plane load of passengers did not accept the first offer, simple supply and demand economics would say, increase the offer until you get a taker.
Let’s hope United Airlines has learned a common-sense lesson, offering extra dollars to get a volunteer is much better business than beating up a paying customer!

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