Thursday, April 13, 2017

How United Airlines Should Have Handled The Crisis With The Passenger Who Would Not Give Up His Seat

I have something to say about the disaster with the passenger being hauled off the plane in Chicago.
Way back in 1983, I was living in Perth West Australia. An inmate released from a mental hospital "went off" and pulled a knife on a person and held him hostage.The West Australian Police SWAT team showed up. They remained calm and did not "shoot first and ask questions later." I pointed out to them that I had developed a friendship with the man and that he trusted me. I volunteered to go in and talk to the man. The lieutenant in charge warned me that I was taking a big risk and might get hurt. I acknowledged the danger. I assured him that I knew how to handle myself. He allowed me to go ahead.
I went into the apartment. I talked to the former mental hospital inmate Jeff at length. I remained calm. I listened to him. I showed compassion for the person holding the knife on the hostage. After an hour, Jeff put down his knife and released the hostage. A West Australian police officer came in at that point and gave Jeff a shot that was a tranquilizer. He was returned to the mental institution. No charges were filed. Nobody was killed or injured.
A man who does a blog on passenger rights commented on the disaster that happened with the United Airlines flight. He pointed out that US government guidelines allow airlines to pay a passenger being asked to leave a plane to make a seat available for someone else up to $1,350 US. Airlines have limits on such offers between $5,000 and $15,000 US dollars. It would have been better to talk nicely to this passenger. A financial offer "that he could not refuse" would have been a far better outcome than the disaster that happened.
One of my dear friends is a retired United Airlines employee. He pointed out that the lawsuit that will filed against United Airlines by the passenger hauled off the plane will result in financial costs to United Airlines in the range of "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to "millions of dollars."

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