By Rishi Sharma
This year has been quite rough for the airline industry. So, whose fault is it? The airlines, or the passengers?
On 26 March, the first major issue concerning the airline industry started with the banning of two young girls from travelling due to them wearing leggings.The two girls were daughters of a United Airlines employee and were flying on an employee travel pass. Employees of this airline receive a certain amount of miles in which they can fly for free or at a discounted rate. The only request is that the travelers represent the airline by wearing “smart-casual” clothing. This rule is implemented in most commercial airlines, including Dubai’s very own, Emirates.
The employee benefit rule clearly mentions particular clothing items that are prohibited and “spandex pants” are mentioned. However, it can also be argued that the two girls were only children, and they are too young for such a dress code to be applied on them. Many others defend United Airlines as following the dress code is a very small thing to keep in mind in return for free or discounted travel passes.
Another major headline, that only took place this month, is the overbooking of a plane, which resulted in violent action between the airport officials and a passenger. United Airlines had overbooked a flight from Chicago to Louisville, and needed four of their employees to go to Louisville for emergency reasons. To adjust the seating of their four employees, the airlines wanted to get four volunteers who would give up their seat. The gate agents began offering $800 worth of travel vouchers and another plane ticket to their desired destination. However, the gate agents were only able to convince three passengers to accept this offer and had to use a randomizer to choose the last one. David Dao, a 69-year old doctor, was randomly chosen, and requested to deboard the aircraft. However, Dao refused, and remained in his seat firmly. As a result, the cabin crew had to call the Airport Police and have Dao removed off the plane. After Dao consistently refused to leave, the officials began to drag Dao off his seat violently. As a result of this, Dao faced a concussion and a small nose fracture.
In cases in which a flight is overbooked, the cabin crew is instructed to contact the airport officials. According to The Star, The Chicago Department of Aviation stated that what the Airport Police Officer had done was not a part of their protocol, and the officer has been suspended for taking violent action against Dao.
Two weeks after this headline, a video was released by a Chinese news agency CGTN, that showed Dao asking the officials to “drag” him off the seats, and stating that he would not move in any condition. Many believe that Dao has no rights to battle on such grounds with an authorised staff, and the fact that he specifically used the word ‘drag’ indirectly could have been seen as a challenge by the staff.
Dao’s lawyers and United have reached a settlement. Dao’s lawyers have chosen not to disclose the terms of the settlement as of yet.
Is it the airline or passengers fault? Let us know what you think in the comments!