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United Airlines Counter Point

By Terri Sloan

I don’t know about you, but if a security guard told me I had to get off a plane, I would get off. Maybe I would complain… or maybe I would try to sweet talk my way out of it. But I would get off. Even if I decided to stand my ground, once hands are on me, I’m off. Why were the other passengers shouting to leave the man alone? Why didn’t they tell the man to stop resisting and avoid being injured?

Yes, today’s incident in which a man was forcibly removed from an aircraft is a public relations nightmare for United Airlines. But if the man had simply gotten up and disembarked as requested, it wouldn’t have been a story at all.

I am disappointed in our outraged society. Every story has two sides. But anybody can post a video to Facebook and suddenly four million people are experts. Four million opinions. Four million outraged.

Because of the leggings incident, there was already gnashing of teeth and outrage aplenty. “I’m canceling my upcoming flight!” “I’m never flying United again!” “I hope they sue!” But that story should have never existed. Those girls were traveling for FREE with an employee. Employees are very clearly told the rules, and it is their responsibility to make sure the family and friends who fly non-rev under them know the rules. If anything, the employee should have been disciplined for putting the airline in that position. But more than that, the woman who took the video and released her rant was wrong. She took aim, shot, went public -no questions asked.

It’s a dangerous thing to be tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. There is always more to a story that we know. We don’t know why they needed to move four crew members, but my guess is another flight depended on getting that crew to their destination and if they hadn’t gotten the employees onto that flight, another flight would have been postponed or canceled, creating hardships for many more passengers. They don’t bump paying passengers to get crew on board for no reason. And why on earth did that doctor resist like that? I don’t know one doctor who would allow himself to be dragged while being recorded on cell phones. At some point, you give up and you walk out. Keep your dignity, man.

Yes, let’s put United Airlines out of business because of an isolated incident. Let’s put 86,000 employees out of work. Let’s denigrate and disparage the crew. Let’s accuse and vilify the security guy.

They could have handled it differently, of course. And in hindsight, I’m certain there’s a lot of clarity. But, come on; let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. It’s really not that unusual when traveling to be told what to do. TSA has the power to keep you out of the secure area. The gate agent has the power to keep you off the plane. And the flight crew has the power to remove you. That’s the way it works with every commercial airline in every airport. Flying is a privilege. You are under the authority of others when you travel. Just do what you are told.

Our rights in polite society only extend as far as we are cooperating in our environment.

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