Gone are the days. When aviation was the stuff of class and happiness, where handsome lads and equally handsome lasses leapt into machines of loving grace and invited others to join. Now we have Chicago police goons knocking out 69 year-old passengers to remove them after an airline booking error. This latest insult to pax global is not just a miasmic foolhardy disaster for United Airlines, its symbolic. We are squeezed more and more tightly into the machines that are now indispensable to modern life because we have become dependent on being whisked from A to B ASAP.
So its a dependency that leads to shareholder value and profits while negative moments occur where citizens interact with airline trolls in the form of rank and file staff suffering from delusions of grandeur. Previously the worse case scenario would be some ground crew lackey perusing a list of passengers along with a manager would pick out those likely to be least likely to sue after discovering the flight was overbooked. Then when you present your ticket for final boarding, you were told “Sorry your seat is double booked. For $800 and a free hotel stay would you mind stepping aside for this nice captain to make his way to St Louis (this being Chicago) so that he can fly another plane from there with 80 passengers.”
By the way, you can still say no. It’s up to the airline to find someone who is motivated by the cash. Legally at that point airlines can force you off, but if your disabled daughter is waiting at home and in danger that can be a very stupid thing for an airline lackey to do.
That’s before you step aboard. After you step aboard, any attempt by the airline to remove you unless you’re drunk or refusing to listen when you’re told to stop smoking or reading your Kindle is tantamount to abuse, crass stupidity and in Mr David Dao’s case, apparent assault with a deadly weapon, intimidation, libel, defamation and wanton brand suicide.
He’s 69 years old for goodness sake!
United is in deep doodoo for having a medical doctor who’s Asian of origin summarily knocked unconscious and then dragged backwards off the airliner. Like that poor pilot in Black Hawk Down, dragged by his feet through the streets of Mogadishu and the outpouring on social media has been no less ferocious. The public doesn’t like this sort of thing. We don’t like it United because it’s the action of an unaccountable dictator.
No two ways about this. Dr Dao, whatever his previous life, is going to take the airliner for a lot of money. And quite rightly. Maybe he’ll retire to a large mansion near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago monstrosity in Florida. But what about the aviation experience? It’s now the equivalent of torture for many as they are hustled through security like sardines, prodded and shoved about by aggressive bandits of airport security while they smirk.
Add to this odious practice it appears the service aboard many flights is no more. You’re thrown a bag of crisps and if you’re lucky, a bottle of warm water by a frowning/sneering philistine dressed in blue polyester and matching eyelashes.
The coast is clear for the return of the Graf Zeppelin or similar. Put me on a floating dirigible for two days from South Africa to the US as we glide across the ocean with butlers serving crisp lettuce, smoked salmon and the onboard theatre alive with options while the viewing room allows one time to take in the stars surrounded by tightly dressed beautiful people of the globe romancing and discoursing.
This bout of flying apocalypse has to be stopped. We are not chattel bottled up in the fuselage and thrown off at the destination like capitalist slaves. No, we’re the folks who pay commercial aviation shareholders their profits and I guess its time to remind those who own airlines that there’s a limit to abuse.
Seriously folks, United has three immediate problems.
- Evidence A : The damages they’re going to pay Dr Dao
- Evidence B: Brand damage by being the butt of constant references on memes, jifs and live social Snapchat bad PR.
- Evidence C: The PR bit has already led to $1 billion wiped off their share value all because a couple of black-shirted overtrained cretins.
Big trouble in Chicago, bigger trouble on Wall Street, major issue in court despite United’s CEO grovelling. Oscar Munoz initially said staff acted in accordance with airline policy which is a bit like saying United’s next policy is enforced food poisoning. Now Munoz has changed his tune calling it “a horrific mistake” and says policies on the removal of passengers are being reviewed. Would he have said its horrific if his company hadn’t lost $1 billion in value? Perhaps not. I think something along the lines of “I am resigning” or “I have fired x” is now an urgent statement we should hear from Meneer Munoz.
In addition, if United is smart they’ll immediately offer Dr Dao money, free rides for life and whatever else he demands. If they’re dumb, they’ll obsess about the fact that he previously was suspended as a doctor, has a narcotics charge, and plays poker and decide to go the legal route against said doctor.
Social Media will take down this management team if its not careful while Dr Dao’s poker playing prowess should really scare them too.
I’ll raise you $1 billion, United, and see you.