What We’re All Missing from the United Airlines Fiasco

Everyone by now who does not live under a rock has seen the horrible beating of Dr. David Dao by an O’Hare International Airport security officer, with what seems to be O’Hare airport police backing the security officer up. Most everyone with a conscience is offended and horrified at what occurred to Dr. Dao. Pretty much everyone would also tell you that the response from United was one of the worst PR boners of the past 100 years. Between stating in an email to United employees that the doctor had been belligerent, to suggesting that the doctor actually “fell and hurt his head” while being beaten by airport security, to then having the CEO of United apologize for “having to re-accommodate passengers on an overbooked flight” (the flight was not overbooked), to finally having to apologize only after losing one billion dollars in stock valuations. The list goes on and on. 

United now has become a punchline, a joke, about how badly airline passengers are treated by both the airports and by the carriers themselves. We can all agree that airports have become a horrid place to be, and there are many reasons for air travel having become such a mess. Everything from the FAA to the TSA to other problems I cannot even fathom.

But there is an even bigger threat to our freedom here. That is: the fact that at an airport, O’Hare law enforcement seems to have acted at the behest of United Airlines to make up for the stupidity of the employees and station managers of United. Meaning that for any and all intents and purposes, O’Hare police were literally acting as enforcers for a corrupt or inept company who wanted to cover up its mistake of improper scheduling -- and instead of spending a couple thousand dollars transporting the employees, United’s station manager called in their paid for Gestapo to do their dirty work. 

United could have said to the passengers that this plane cannot take off until the doctor has left -- and then sat on the runway until either Dr. Dao relented or until someone else relented. Of course, United could have done the smart thing and not loaded anyone until they had four passengers who would give up their flight for the United employees. 

But no – instead, they corrupted local law enforcement, whose authority we should try to respect, into doing their dirty work, to cover up their own ineptitude. One of the great things about the American experiment is that our court system and law enforcement responders have always been neutral whenever they go to a crime scene or to handle a domestic violence scene. Police might make a mistake, but at least they are trying to be fair whenever they respond to any situation. But not here. Not this time. 

At O’Hare airport, law enforcement works for the airlines who have mistreated their passengers and in this case, law enforcement and airport security physically abused United’s passenger to make up for United’s mistake. This is not the first time United has tried something like this. Just last year, United tried to remove a first-class passenger from a flight to “make way for a higher priority passenger”. When the passenger protested, United employees threatened to call the airport police and put the man in handcuffs. Imagine -- threatening a first-class passenger with arrest and jail because United wanted to give the seat to a “higher priority passenger.” So it is very evident that United feels as though it can have its passengers arrested if they can’t make up for its own ineptitude. And federal law backs up United here. If a passenger does not obey any flight attendant, that passenger has committed a federal crime. So all United (or any other air carrier) need to when they make a mistake is to remove the passenger or threaten them with being arrested. Most people will get off the plane rather than being arrested. God bless the good doctor for refusing to give into such bullying. 

(For the record, the passenger who was fraudulently bumped from first class suggested to United’s senior management that they refund his ticket and donate $25,000 to a charity of his choice. United instead offered the first-class passenger $500 credit to his next flight on United. And of course nothing to any charity) 

So for United, they don’t need to train their employees on how to handle difficult situations. When there is a problem, all the employee or station manager need do is call the police and have the officers arrest someone – yes, that’s good for business. But federal law allows for United to do this. Meaning that federal law has helped to corrupt local law enforcement by all but requiring airport police to arrest someone who has a legitimate disagreement with an airport employee while on the plane, no matter how inept the airline employee has been. While we can all agree that under no circumstance should any passenger be allowed to be unruly during a flight, we cannot use federal laws/statutes and those who are sworn to enforce those laws to make up for the incompetence of corporations and their employees. The end result would be tyranny by cop. And by Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines. 

John Massoud is a local District GOP Chair in Shenandoah County, is the head of the Freedom Caucus of the Shenandoah County GOP, and also is a businessman in Northern Virginia.  And in 32 years of operation, Mr. Massoud also has never had any of his customers arrested because of a mistake made by any of his employees or contractors.  

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