United Airlines has been a real dick lately. Today, the world woke up to a very disturbing video of a hapless passenger being bloodied and dragged off an overbooked flight so that a United employee flying stand-by could fly instead. This is just the latest in an increasingly enraging pattern of bad behaviour by the airline. So what can you do about it? Easy: stop giving United your money.
Image: Getty / Gizmodo
This peaceful form of protest is called a boycott, and it's loads of fun. If you stop flying United and tell all your friends to stop flying United, the airline will suffer, and at least a sliver of justice will be served. The best part is that there are plenty of other airlines out there that don't abuse passengers and refuse to apologise. (United did apologise for "the overbook situation" but not for the abuse.)
Other airlines will gladly take your money and make sure you get to your destination without enlisting a muscleman to slam your head into an armrest and forcibly remove you from the plane so that one of its employees can get a free flight. This is not a normal thing to do. Even the airline's CEO couldn't properly apologise for what happened.
What's especially despicable about United is the fact that this latest jaw-dropping incident doesn't seem out of the ordinary for the airline.
It was just a couple of weeks ago that United refused to allow three young girls to board their flight, because they were wearing leggings. United didn't apologise for that incident, instead pointing concerned customers to an arcane clause in its contact of carriage. That opened United up to a real shitstorm of bad press. Then again, United must be used to this kind of thing by now.
There are plenty more incidents that suggest that United Airlines is an evil company. Last year, former Port Authority chairman David Samson pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy after an investigation revealed that Samson had given United permission to build a hangar in exchange for the airline reopening a route between Newark and Columbia, South Carolina, close to where the chairman had a weekend home. The favour-trading scandal also led to Jeff Smisek to resign as United's CEO. Two other senior executives also resigned in disgrace.
But wait, there's more. Just a few months before Smisek's resignation, United made headlines for diverting a flight in order to kick an autistic child off of a flight. This happened after fellow passengers claimed that the child was not being disruptive and pleaded with the flight crew to be more sensitive to the her needs. United apparently didn't apologise for that incident initially, even though the local police who had to take the autistic child off the plane did. In response to the incident, hundreds called for a boycott of United flights.
Two weeks after the incident with autistic girl, United fucked up again! Tahera Ahmad, a Muslim chaplain at Northwestern University accused the airline of discrimination after she requested an unopened can of Diet Coke for "hygienic reasons" and the flight attendant refused. "Well I'm sorry I just can't give you an unopened can so no Diet Coke for you," the flight attendant reportedly said. But then, she gave an unopened can of beer to the man sitting next to Ahmad. When the Muslim woman protested, the flight attendant said, "We are unauthorised to give unopened cans to people because they may use it as a weapon on the plane." The call for a United boycott was quickly renewed when the story went viral on Facebook.
What a United flight would look like in the event of a boycott (Photo: Getty) So it's safe to say that this United boycott idea is overdue. After all, the above horror stories are just a sampling of United's bad behaviour from the past couple years, and it seems obvious that they aren't just isolated incidents. There seems to be a systematic pattern of United treating passengers badly and even engaging in corrupt dealings with the authorities. This is probably why United consistently ranks as one of the worst airlines for customer service.
The airline is so terrible that last it enlisted a team to figure out how to be less awful. Clearly, they didn't figure it out because United's bad behaviour seems to be getting worse, now that the airline is bringing in hired goons to bloody up passengers who are just trying to get home.
Do you want to get beat up by a mercenary on your next flight? Of course you don't. So stop flying United, and tell your friends to stop flying United. There are plenty of good airlines out there. You shouldn't have to give your money to a bad one.