I’ve been hearing about the United incident over the last couple of days. The details I got came in slowly, until I finally had enough of a picture to come to a conclusion.
I’ll leave the actual analysis to Davis Aurini. He did a great job.
There’s the “way the world ought to be”, and the world we actually live in. We’ll never get to the way the world ought to be, and most of us have different definitions of what it should be. My ideal world involves no commercials, and violent beatings for people who drive too slow, and are screwing with their phones when the light turns green. I doubt I’d ever get that approved on a ballot, and even if we did vote on it, some court would overturn it.
Another focus of my ideal world is, the hospitality industry would have to charge the same price to everybody. Sure, they can factor in the market. But they won’t be selling one plane ticket to somebody for $1000, and the person sitting next to them gets to buy a ticket for $100.
(A great meme I saw yesterday goes “United: we put the hospital in hospitality!”)
For the most part, we do not have the rights we think we do. Apparently, if a cop pulls you over for speeding, you are legally and constitutionally correct by refusing to provide your license and registration under the 5th amendment, because the information you provide can and will be used against you in a court of law. But go ahead and give it a try. Let me know in the comments how well it worked for you.
In real life, the cop will probably yank you out of your car and charge you with some form of obstruction. You’ll be dragged to jail. Sure, if you can afford a lawyer, and all the money and time, you’ll probably win the lawsuit. But do you really have the money for that? Better to just hand the documents over, be polite and cooperative, and hope the officer lets you off with a warning for being so nice. (It actually has worked for me a couple of times. One cop was so surprised I didn’t try to bullshit him that he got a blank stare for a few seconds).
Besides, do you honestly believe you can come up with an excuse the cop hasn’t heard? Everybody lies to him. Everybody has to take a leak. The cop knows you just passed a rest stop. Everybody yells at him “You work for me, asshole! Aren’t there pedophiles and Wall Street Bankers you should be going after? I’m just trying to get to work!” They hear that from everybody; what makes you think YOU can actually pull it off?
Same thing at the airport. The TSA screeners don’t give a shit that I’m a veteran. There’s no sense in bringing it up. I just do what I have to do to get through screening and not do anything to make myself memorable to them. They don’t want to hear about radiation from the naked body scanners. They always examine my laptop like it’s an alien artifact even though they encounter thousands of them a day; they probably don’t know what radiation is.
So with the United thing, we ended up with a very bad confluence of several factors that boiled over. Everybody was right and everybody was wrong, and nobody won. Maybe United won, at least in this round. But the hit to their PR will last forever. “Fly United and get your ass beat!” I’m sure people will be saying that for a while. But all airlines suck. Name one that doesn’t.
Also, don’t count on the r selected animals around you to do anything to help you. They’ll be glad to take out their phones and record the whole thing, then post it on Twitter. But they don’t give any more of a crap about you than United does.
United overbooked, as they always do. Except this time, they ran out of no-shows. Then they had to transport some mechanics to the next airport at the last minute, so they had to kick people off the plane. Of the four, three took the vouchers. Hell, Louisville isn’t that far from Chicago. For $800, I’d rent a luxury car and drive it. This Doctor Dao said he had to be at his next destination. But why would United care? Everybody has to be at their next destination. He won the anti-lottery; get off my plane. (There are reports that Dr. Dao is into some serious deviancy, but I don’t see how any of it is relevant to his ass beating by United and the cops they called in).
If it happens to you, the best thing you can do is roll with it. Take what they’re offering. Milk them for all you can get: money, hotel, rental car, whatever. Don’t fly on a tight deadline. Better yet, don’t fly. The airlines hate you and want to ruin your personal life. I only fly for work, when they’re paying for it and have no choice but to live with schedule delays. And I always fly first thing in the morning the day before, to allow for delays. Or to get checked into my hotel early and relax, or go out and get the lay of the land.
Looking at it again, I think the only winners in this United scuffle were the people that weren’t involved. And our prize is memes. Here are a couple I came across: