Monday, April 10, 2017

Today in richly deserved internet scorn...

Did you see this shit about the overbooked United Airlines flight? If not, click this. Of course you could just wait for me to sum up, I think we both know I'm going to but you might want to check out the video.
Because there is nothing, literally nothing
about air travel that isn't an infuriating ordeal.
"My name is Allen, and I would be your
server, but our computer has randomly
selected you to leave the restaurant."

So airlines do this thing called overbooking where they sell more tickets than they have seats on a given flight. It sounds pretty bullshit and I can't think of another industry that does it too, but here we are. Anyway, United oversold a flight from Chicago to Louisville Kentucky but then, oh shit, realized that they need room for four United employees and so they asked for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for hotel rooms, a flight the next day and money. When no one took them up on it they announced that 4 passengers would be randomly selected by a computer and asked to get off.

'Fly the friendly skies!'
-United's now clearly
ironic slogan
Ok, so say run you an airline, and through your own poor planning found have yourself needing to get four people to give up their seats. So you offer them an alternative flight, accommodations and money. Cool. But no one's going for it, so what are you going to do? Offer more money? More free flights? Or are you going to randomly boot four people, by force, from the flight they paid for. If you said money or flights, congratulations, you understand how to be a person. If you said forcible removal, congratulations you're United Airlines.

Most of the selectees went peacefully except for a doctor who needed to be at work in a hospital the next day. When he refused, they called in the Chicago P.D. to drag him kicking and screaming off the flight. Holy shit.
I'm unclear as to what kind of doctor the passenger is or why it was so urgent that he be back
at the hospital on Monday, so let's assume he exclusively treats adorable children with puppies.
Is no one at United familiar with the
internet or how it's mostly outrage now?
Sounds terrible, right? Yes it does. But the hilarious part was when the United Airlines staff collectively forgot that it's 2017 and everything has a built in camera and everyone has a Twitter account. So now United is hunkering down for a richly deserved a shitstorm of negative press. Not only for their treatment of the doctor but for the Omega-level stupidity it takes to think everyone both on the flight and on the internet would be on their side about this. United's CEO offered a sort of apology saying:

Pictured: the real victims here.
Notice how unsettled everyone looks.
"This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Out team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation."

-Oscar Munoz, master of
the corporate non-apology

I'm going to go ahead and say that this
passenger had a worse day yesterday than
anyone on United's staff. Monday however...
I say sort of apology because if you read it, no where is he actually apologizing for delaying a plane full of people for three hours while the cops decide how best to force a 69 year-old doctor out of his seat and chuck him off the plane all because United fucked up their own scheduling. Instead he tells us how upsetting it was for United's staff. Munoz does say that he is sorry for having to re-accommodate customers, but that's not really accepting responsibility for un-accomodating them in the first place.

For real. It took me like three seconds.
Oh and if you did watch the video, you might have heard a helpful passenger point out that United could rent their staff a car and drive them to Louisville. So I Google mapped it and yeah, the flight is an hour and ten minutes whereas driving is four and a half hours. Since it took three hours of sitting at the gate for this PR disaster to unfold, it seems like United probably could have been a little smarter about this.

Look, I'm not like an airline CEO, and I certainly don't want to tell Oscar Munoz how to do his job, but it kind of seems like the classy thing to do here would have been to fire everyone responsible for this, offer an unqualified apology and I don't know, free flights for life for the doctor, and then apologize to every one else on the flight and on the internet for assuming that we're all idiots and would believe that United's gate agent's computer has some kind of random passenger selector for kicking people off their flights due to corporate stupidity.
"Commodore's new Vic-20 personal computer can randomly select airline
 for removal in half the time it take to destroy your company's public image."
-Noted actor, singer/songwriter William Shatner

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