In honor of #UnitedAirlines attempt to ensure no one will ever fly with them again, I decided to do something different with my Throwback Thursday post this today. In the name of humor I’m combining an old post with some new stuff. Here’s some of the new stuff:
If you’re in the States this week, you’ve heard about this. #UnitedAirlines had overbooked a flight and after boarding passengers United discovered they had sold all the seats. United unfortunately had a flight crew that they needed to get to another city to work on another flight. So they embarked on the usual auction of money and flight vouchers to try to get people to allow themselves to be bumped. It didn’t work. No one took the bait. Next United announced they would have the computer randomly choose four paying passengers that would be kicked off the flight so that United could fly their own employees somewhere.
Apparently three passengers got off the plane, but the fourth, 69 year old Dr. David Dao, from the video above refused. He said he was a doctor and he needed to get home so that he could see patients the next day. After several requests, reportedly given very politely, the United Airlines security crew physically dragged him off as he screamed like a girl who’s seen a mouse. What? Did you just gasp at me for making fun of 69 year old Dr. Dao? To add a weird but unrelated bit of information, several years ago Dr. Dao received 5 years supervised medical probation for exchanging prescription meds for sexual favors with a male patient. It’s completely unrelated, but you’re not so sympathetic now, are you? Can you say karma?
Related to the story, this is something I wrote almost 6 years ago: So as I’m preparing to board my flight home from Richmond, the airline lackey, in a stunningly accurate impression of Charlie Brown’s teacher, announces over the P.A. that my flight is over booked by one and they’d like to offer a $300 ticket voucher to anyone who will take a later flight. How does the airline over book by one? It’s their plane! Don’t they know how many seats it has? Or did someone just take their seat with them when they got off the plane? Do they have to have one of the flight attendants count the seats after each flight and report back to headquarters? “What? We only have 47 seats? I’d swear we had 48 when we left. Call up to the gate and tell them we’re one short. Hey, has this back row exit door been open the whole flight?”
Now that we’re living in a computer age (yeah, just now.) shouldn’t the airlines be able to keep track of how many seats their planes have and sell only that exact amount of tickets? Or maybe they could sell two less tickets than the number of seats just in case someone somewhere makes a mistake with their abacus during the pre-flight seat count. And why do they wait until 15 minutes before your flight leaves to discover their error? That’s when the fun begins. That’s when the game of chicken/auction begins. “Since our flight is overbooked and no one took the $300 voucher we’d like to offer a $500 ticket voucher and two nights at any Marriott hotel.” You think to yourself, “Now this is getting interesting. I might take that.” All the passengers look back and forth at each other because they know that as they clock ticks down the ante goes up. After two more minutes pass Charlie Brown’s teacher clicks the mic again and says, “As we are still overbooked by one we would like to offer a $750 ticket, two nights at a Marriott and a lifetime suppy of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat.” We all eye each thinking, “now this is getting interesting, and really, is it possible they serve Rice-a-Roni in San Francisco restaurants?” They crowd is watching the auction shouting “Take it, take it!” “Door number 1” “Wait for showcase number 2!”
What kind of business model is this where you can sell a service then essentially buy it back for at least 3x it’s value and then still give the customer the service albeit an hour and a half later? Have you noticed how many airlines that have gone out of business, filed for bankruptcy or merged in the last ten years? Yeah, I’m thinking that if even half the time they had an accurate seat count they could save themselves a fortune every year. It’s like they’re playing an expensive game of Native American giver.(and why did Native Americans get that unfair rep? Wasn’t it the white settlers that stole Manhattan from them for some Mardi Gras beads?). “Um…yeah, we told you that you could have a seat, but we were lying. Will you take $1000 to get on the next flight?” I wish more businesses had this policy. “Yes, Mr. Taylor, I know we said we would sell you the Ford Focus for $17,000, but well, this is embarrassing, umm…Ford is kind of out of those right now. If you could just go away quietly and come back tomorrow we’ll give you a Cadillac Escalade with lifetime satellite radio.”
I apologize for this being a bit long. Enjoy your Thursday! ~Phil