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I didn't say I would not talk about politics but that I wished to change direction.  The story of United Airlines treatment of a 69 year old physician has caught the public eye: it's been reported by major and minor news outlets alike; the YouTube video of the incident is the first to get onto the Internet in months (since Trump was elected, videos of police brutality have vanished).

I write because there is a central problem in how the incident is literally explained:  it was not a case of overbooking: the airline illegally exacted from a passenger his paid-for seat in order to give it to employees because that suited the airlines' convenience (and pocketbook) better:  read the lawyer's explain here.

United Passenger "Removal:"

The reporting is also not focusing with enough precision on the casual resort to ultra-violence. Here is an egregious display of how US people resort to violence first as a solution to difficulties. The man won't volunteer, and then picked on, won't cooperate: so he is called disruptive and belligerent; in fact the first thing they did in response to his refusal was call a crew of men who immediately dragged him down an aisle, blooded and knocked him out. He is today in the hospital. Dare I say (paraphrasing Diane Reynolds) if he had been a black man on a Greyhound bus with would have heard of an "accidental" death -- he could have been killed. The first response of the US to Assad dropping chemical weapons on children is to kill some more: not to ease immigrant restrictions, not to send effective aid.

It is troubling to see most of the passengers sit there and much ordinary commentary that either defends the airline or shows a lack of concern: as long as "I" get the cheapest flight the monopoly of these airlines will allow. The passengers cried out but they all sat there and some hugged their seats tighter. The US population accepts United's behavior.

Two related issues:  On the nearly abusive exploitation of airports:  I've now read and had validated many times over how miserable is the treatment of passengers in US airline terminals: egregiously high prices in enclosed super-luxurious restaurants or absurdly high for poor quality (almost inedible) food and drink. No comfortable chairs, asked to go through routines. The TSA a completely empowered bullying group. It is a fact and truth that many airline terminals of other countries are very much better, more humane: cafes to eat at, no suspicious atmosphere, amenities on offer easily.

Paying for it: since Expedia managed to cheat me of $1800 I have discovered my experience is even common. You want a cheaper flight and go to Orbitz or Expedia. On the side it may and often does say non-refundable and subject to change (meaning you can be put on another flight at another time and have no recourse. I wrote at length about my experience here:

Expedia's scams

Airplane travel today

I don't know a lot of people and many are unwilling to tell of when they've been cheated or mistreated but I can name 5 people who've told me now and again they drive long distances rather than take an airplane.  In many areas of the US Amtrak almost doesn't exist so few are the trains coming across the landscape in a given 24 hours. Buses take forever.

I don't go into conditions on the planes or the Indian caste system which has evolved so the slightest amenity (an "extra") must be paid for in another segregated space. Just a picture will do:

The airlines practice ruthless tyranny; the newspapers and even public are complicit.

Miss Drake


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 13th, 2017 03:33 pm (UTC)
Violent disturbing videos; one case of over-booking: what happened
I've been following this news story, too, after seeing those violently disturbing videos. United's CEO Munoz only started to change his tune and tone after the company's shares had dropped by almost 1 billion dollars in less than a day. They've since recovered about three quarters of their value, but they've still taken a big hit and this kind of company is sadly only going to change its behaviour if it, too, is hit where it hurts - on its bottom line, not for reasons of common decency.

I followed the twitter feeds, too, and was again struck by their satirical inventiveness and ever-growing clout - *-storm is right.

I 've only once been booked on a flight where there was genuine overbooking and British Airways had to start making financial incentives to encourage people to opt for a later flight. In our case - I was on a study trip with some of my adult education students - that would have meant staying on in London overnight and missing work next morning so nobody was prepared to accept. At that point they first started to try and pressure us a little more, but when we remained obdurate they then looked at the roster again to see who we had booked with and immediately went on to other travellers instead. I'd organised the trip through Switzerland's largest quality travel agency and they evidently didn't want people complaining back to one of their most important corporate customers - bottom lines again.

It was a messed up evening in general: the conveyor belts had broken down and everybody had to carry their hold luggage forward to the gate, chaos reigned and to top it all we had had to wait ages for one of our number to clear passport control because of the rigorous search of her luggage and person. We couldn't understand it at first as she was a most unlikely smuggler or terrorist, the oldest in our group, a very tiny, gentle and genteel, everybody's favourite fairytale grandmother type, but then we realised it must have been the passport: her son is one of Germany's top diplomats and leading Middle East experts and she had stamps from all the various highly suspicious countries she'd visited him in when he'd been German ambassador there. She was actually the only one who could reasonably have stayed over, but after all that she definitely didn't want to, especially since she may very well have been subjected to more of the same the next morning with no group support.

By the way, United are apparently due to announce Munoz's 13 million dollar bonus for doing such a good job in their quarterly figures this month.

Apr. 14th, 2017 03:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Violent disturbing videos; one case of over-booking: what happened
Fran, thank you for your comments.  As someone who lives in US society, though it must be admitted very much in a small way and not involving myself in major US tastes (I don't even know how football is played, I avoid violent films for the most part, but was seduced by Breaking Bad and now think I was seeing or learning about US society as I watched so fascinated), I am struck by my non-US friends, yourself and British people whose response is first to the violence.

US people, Fran, are not disturbed. They are angry because they are receiving all kinds of mistreatment of which this is a sudden height all can see together but it's not the violence per se that hits them but the whole miserable situation -- the mistreatment they receive as a matter of course -- each time they take a plane unless first class. I'm told first class people also get to keep their luggage with them. You can see this from the defenses made of the airlines!  well this way they offer cheaper rates. That won't wash because this was not a case of overbooking but it is overbooking that is talked about. US people have been taught to hate unions and socialism so there is nothing in the US gov't and courts today to oppose monopolies, thus they are helpless (they feel they have no choice) and think of convenience, time, and tell themselves their bodily safety is being attended to.

Your horrible experience included this imposition of suspicion and oppression of everyone with no adequate cause. Yes some scrutiny should be done to stop people boarding planes intent to blow them up or kill people, but much that is added on is finding out information. To go through security to get home when Izzy and I returned from the UK I was photographed four times.  I was asked to give some numbers about myself which could be used to research me. How can I say no? they hire bullying types at the checkpoints.

I was once 'randomly' spot checked individually. The only reason it was polite was these people were not US TSA people but Icelanders filling in and very embarrassed. Izzy stayed with me. We were refused boarding on that flight back from the UK: spontaneously, not an act, I became sufficiently distraught that suddenly the woman did have the seats. They were going to give them to someone else.

Izzy and I are planning for a trip to Milan 2018 March for the World Championship Ice-Skating. I'd love to see Italy again.  I will try  twice more for the UK: the Lake District and Scotland. If I go through with my hopes for a literary biography of Winston Graham I must return to Cornwall for a museum-library where his papers are kept but beyond these for me it will be a car or train or stay home. Well a loving good friend of deep connection might tempt me but alas I've none of those.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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