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United Airlines: Aisle 16 Seat D Eminent Domain

Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave.^MD

By Christopher Suprun

One of the funny stories, or sad, depending on your perspective is the homeowner who voted for Trump but is going to be out of the US shortly.  Everyone knows Donald Trump promised to build a wall between America and Mexico.  This woman though finds border wall plans intend to put her home in Mexico, not the US.

There is something mildly funny about that and the many other stories of Trump voters who are now learning they will be hurt by the policies of the imbecile who they cast ballots.

For me, though I am vehemently opposed to eminent domain, particularly when it helps a private entity and the “public good” is specious at best.  I do not claim to be Walter Williams when it comes to economics, but one thing I did learn in his 8:00 AM micro course three days a week was eminent domain clearly was not economics working.

When you walk into a grocer and pick up a gallon of milk the price might be $8.00 for the gallon or it might be $1.50.  In either case, the price is fair as soon as you plop down the $1.50 or the $8.00.  How many gallons of milk are sitting there waiting to be bought close to expiration, how many cows are milking that week, etc.  All those issues go into the question of supply and demand.  While some would argue there is no way $8.00 is a fair price the economic argument is of course it is, or else you would not put down your money.  If you do put your money down you are saying the gallon of milk is worth it to you and you will choose to spend less elsewhere on something less important.

That brings us to today’s news.  United Airlines, like many airlines, chose to sell a commodity that it didn’t actually own, i.e. it oversold seats on a flight.  As usual, United asked for volunteers so that four of its crew members could travel to Louisville from Chicago.  None agreed to the four hundred dollar stipend and hotel room so as the law of supply and demand dictated, they raised the price to eight hundred dollars.  Still no takers.  At this point, the gate agent boarded the plane, without the four seats they “needed.”

According to some airline industry observers, United, like most carriers has the right to deny you entry onto the plane, but once on they are obligated to provide passage.  (United Airlines’ has refused to respond to multiple inquiries from me by phone and email.)

This is of course where the story occurs.  United has its “computer” pick four passengers to stay in Chicago.  One is a physician who is seeing patients in the morning.  He refuses and is forcibly removed by City of Chicago Airport Security.  (The Chicago Airport Authority has likewise also refused comment and response.)  In the process of his removal, he is physically injured as seen in the video here.

This is where the real story begins.  Has eminent domain now come to airlines?  What industry will it come to next?

…our servers are hungry so the police are here to remove you.

…our hotel wants to save on energy so the police are here to kick you out.

You see the point.  This man paid for his ticket.  He was within his rights according to United’s contract of carriage to not give up his seat.  He was physically assaulted for doing so.  A private industry forced its will upon someone who paid for a seat and was not disrupting the flight crew.

United’s mockery of a response so soon after the leggings incident should have people reconsider this airline when it comes time for summer travel.  The problem?  Once again, they will run to Congress to be bailed out by a Washington that rewards bad behavior.


Apparently in America 2017, just because you buy something does not make it yours.  For years I have heard Republicans complain about welfare queens, but is is pretty clear the biggest welfare problem we have is with corporations getting preferential treatment from city leaders and police forces.

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1 Comment on United Airlines: Aisle 16 Seat D Eminent Domain

  1. I was seeing casual references to this in places and snippets of news, but now I get what you’re talking about. Damn, that’s messed up–I hope he sues, because that’s the airline’s fault and they should be held accountable. Deplorable behavior–and I hope is patients are okay.

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