You may have heard about the disturbing incident last night in which a passenger was violently dragged off a United Express flight (flight 3411 operated by Republic Airways). My buddy Gary Leff wrote up a good post on what happened.
There’s a lot to digest here, including the fact that a subsequent flight would have been cancelled if the four crew members had not been allowed to fly. But today’s tip is about how to avoid finding yourself in this situation.
I don’t know all the details, but usually when your flight is overbooked and there are no volunteers willing to give up their seats, the gate agents deny boarding to those who were the last to check in, paid the least or have no frequent flyer status. That’s why it’s always important to check in early for your flight and/or be loyal to one airline/alliance.
According to United’s Contract of Carriage under Boarding Priorities:
“If a flight is Oversold, no one may be denied boarding against his/her will until UA or other carrier personnel first ask for volunteers who will give up their reservations willingly in exchange for compensation as determined by UA. If there are not enough volunteers, other Passengers may be denied boarding involuntarily in accordance with UA’s boarding priority:
- Passengers who are Qualified Individuals with Disabilities, unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 years, or minors between the ages of 5 to 15 years who use the unaccompanied minor service, will be the last to be involuntarily denied boarding if it is determined by UA that such denial would constitute a hardship.
- The priority of all other confirmed passengers may be determined based on a passenger’s fare class, itinerary, status of frequent flyer program membership, and the time in which the passenger presents him/herself for check-in without advanced seat assignment.”
Regardless, there’s absolutely no question that United and Republic Airways should have handled this differently and the passenger is owed more than an apology. The video was really disturbing and no passenger should ever find themselves in this situation.
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