Like many of you, I watched in horror as a man who legally had a ticket and legally had been allowed to board a United Airlines plane was tasered, beat up, and dragged out of a plane in Chicago. The reason given was that 4 United Airlines staff had to be in Louisville for a flight the next day. Compensation had been offered to anyone who was willing to give up their seat. When no one did, the airline checked through its records, found 4 people who had paid the lowest fares, and began removing them from the plane. The man who was beaten, was said to be belligerent when he was asked to leave the plane. It did not matter what inconvenience this being bumped caused the customers. In the airlines mind, the staff members took priority.
Right away, news reporters or detectives looked into the history of this man. He had been mixed up in a inappropriate conduct medical scheme at some point in his life. The airline took that as a sign. See we didn't harm an innocent person- this person has a past. He was a bad guy. So he didn't deserve to be treated with respect.
Now I have been bumped from a flight before. In fact my family was bumped. We voluntarily gave up our tickets and flew at a later time. We were duly compensated. It was our choice that we made. And that was fine. We used the compensation to fly out some relatives from England. It was a good choice to make.
All of the passengers on the plane were given a chance to voluntarily give up their tickets in order that the four crew members could fly to Louisville. They were given an offer of $400 and a hotel room. When no one jumped at this chance, they were given an offer of $800 and a hotel room. Still no one jumped at this chance. So all in all the airline offered about $4000 in compensation (the money and hotel room costs) for the four precious seats.
Thus the airline made the decision to remove 4 passengers who were already on the plane to make room for the crew members. Now like most people, when I get on the plane, and as long as I am not causing a disturbance, I expect that I will get from point A to point B. The beaten man probably felt the same way. But instead the police and airport security dragged him from the plane. As a paying customer the man had a right to be upset. His past history was of no importance in this case. He had on that night done nothing wrong. He had paid for his seat and had been given permission to board, only to have that right snatched away from him by the airline.
With the cost of the compensation, surely the airline could have found 4 other seats on another airline between Louisville and Chicago to get the crew members to their next assignment. Or maybe they could have adjusted the schedule so that these crew members could work a different flight and found replacement crew members to work the next day's flight. The airline could have found many other ways around this situation. Instead though, they chose to drag this man from his seat after beating him and it was all on video for the world to watch.
The videos yesterday circulated around the globe. United Airlines stock plummeted by a billion dollars yesterday. Undoubtedly this man will sue for damages costing the airline more money. The damages to the airline's reputation of being the "Friendly Skies" will be astronomical. The airline could have chosen to take a small loss because of their scheduling policies, but instead made a huge mistake which will affect them for years. It was not a wise move. Blessings.
My Lenten blessings this week
On Friday April 7th, I gave thanks for the wisdom of the Synod staff who dealt with a very touchy situation with great care and concern.
On Saturday April 8th I gave thanks for the ability to reconnect with friends from the past.
On Sunday April 9th, I gave thanks for the energy of Palm Sunday
On Monday April 10th, I gave thanks to folks generosity as we drove over about 200 kilograms of food to the Newtown Asylum Seekers Centre
On Tuesday April 11th, I gave thanks for those who entertain others.
On Wednesday April 12th, I gave thanks for a few minutes of quietness in a busy week.