Fly the Friendly Skies? I think not
One would think that employees of United Airlines would have learned a valuable lesson after the avalanche of horrendous publicity that hit it in the wake of a 69-year-old doctor being dragged off of one of its planes.
However you feel about the incident — Dr. David Dao was asked to leave the overbooked flight, and refused, resulting in him being dragged down the aisle — common sense would dictate using a slightly gentler touch the next time. Two of the officers who forcibly removed Dao from the plane were fired.
The incident occurred on April 9, 2017, but is hardly the most recent example of egregious behavior toward customers by United employees.
The most recent incident guarantees I will never patronize United again. A flight attendant forced a passenger to put a French bulldog puppy into an overhead bin and the puppy died during the flight. According to witnesses, the dog barked nonstop for two hours and then went silent. The owner wasn’t allowed to stand up and check on the dog because of turbulence.
A flight attendant’s job is difficult, and they’re often subjected to rude, angry and stressed passengers, including those who try to stretch or break the rules. But in this instance, the passenger followed the rules and still wound up with a horrendous outcome.
In-cabin pet kennels
A pet traveling in cabin must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel. The kennel must fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times. The maximum dimensions for hard-sided kennels are 17.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 7.5 inches high (44 cm x 30 cm x 19 cm). The recommended maximum dimensions for soft-sided kennels are 18 inches long x 11 inches wide x 11 inches high (46 cm x 28 cm x 28 cm). Soft-sided pet carriers may exceed these dimensions slightly, as they are collapsible and able to conform to under-seat space without blocking the aisle. With the exception of birds, there may only be one pet per kennel, and the animal must be able to stand up and turn around comfortably. Two birds may travel in the same kennel.
There are dozens of more examples of inexplicable behavior by United employees.
People expressed outraged and threatened a boycott of United after learning of the story. There is a Facebook page dedicated to organizing a boycott, though in truth, it should be pointed out there is a Facebook page devoted to boycotting virtually every business in the world.
Options are limited for consumers flying via air, and so a boycott isn’t practical. Airlines are making seats smaller, charging more and generally making the process a lot more miserable, so the likelihood is that such incidents will be more common, not less.
Each person has to decide for themselves whether or not to patronize a business which repeatedly behaves in such a manner.
There is no right or wrong answer, but for me, I’m done with United for good.