As an advocate for great customer service I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to weigh in on the United Airlines travesty that occurred last week. I’ve traveled a fair amount over the years. I’ve experienced the proverbial bribe to vacate your seat routine maybe 100 times. Am I the only one who hasn’t experienced the random selection of passengers to get kicked off the plane? Who the hell wrote that policy? Better yet who in their right mind enforces it?
Just imagine yourself as a passenger in that situation. You’re sitting there, on your way home from a trip, minding your own business and the flight attendant approaches…
“Excuse me ma’am/sir. Thank you for choosing United today. I’ve been asked to advise you that this seat (you purchased for $750.00) is no longer yours. That’s the bad news. The good news is we’ve booked you on a flight that departs 4 hours from now!”
I can’t believe that 3 passengers allowed themselves to be forced off that plane with nothing more than a grumble! If I’m one of the chosen, I’m not budging until I know why and how. I can honestly see me being dragged down the aisle ala Dr. Dao. I read that United used some sort of computer algorithm to decide who got the shaft.
This situation is wrong on so many fronts. By this time, thanks to the ad nauseam media coverage, you’ve probably heard it all. There is one point I believe has been under emphasized.
It goes back to the bribe. It makes me wonder if there’s some United handbook somewhere with a section titled:
How to Handle Oversold Situations
- Step 1: Offer a $400.00 travel voucher.
- Step 2: If you still need seats, offer an $800.00 travel voucher.
- Step 3: If no takers, randomly select passengers to forfeit their seats.
- Step 4: If they refuse, forcibly remove them from the aircraft.
(Step 4 – I think not…)
I believe all United had to do was up the ante! Instead of stopping at $800 they should have kept going – $1200, $1500, $1800… Everybody has their price. Keep going until you have enough takers. The cost for the airline to give away seats is miniscule. Especially when you consider the cost they will incur now for lawyers, court fees, PR fees and more. Truly, they could have given away a small plane and been better off financially.
I suggest they make a simple edit to the handbook:
Step 4: If steps 1,2 & 3 don’t work, USE COMMON SENSE.