United Takes "No Ticket" Scene from Indiana Jones a Step Too Far, Kicks Off Cheap Ticket Passengers

Posted on by Rebecca Kelley (Rebecca)
URL for sharing: http://thisorth.at/5hs
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First United breaks guitars, now they kick you off their flight if you paid for a cheap ticket. According to Jaunted.com, a United Airlines flight traveling from Burlington to Washington D.C. oversold its cargo capacity and ended up with too much weight to fly. Since United was apparently reticent to hunt down its portliest passengers and ask them to lighten the load (presumably in fear of another Kevin Smith debacle), they decided to do the next offensive thing on the list and kicked off passengers who paid the least for their ticket.

Twitter user @brucepoontip was on the too-heavy flight and tweeted what was happening:

The Twitter user pointed out that most of the people who got kicked off the flight ended up being families and older people, both of whom are more likely to look for cheaper tickets and book in advance. His multiple tweets of the incident finally caught United Airlines' attention, and they promised to look into the issue (which means they probably won't do anything). 

Kicking off overweight passengers is embarrassing and mean, but singling out the folks who paid less for a ticket and devaluing them over the spendier customers is just as bad, if not worse. It transcends from "I'm sorry, but we need to drop weight and you're one of our heavier passengers" to "We're kicking you off this flight because you're a cheapskate and are thus worthless to us. We don't care about inconveniencing you so long as we can provide good customer service to those who paid more."

I'm not sure how United Airlines should have weeded out some passengers in order to lighten their load, but they certainly didn't go about it the best way. They could have kicked off the cheaper tickets but masked it as being a random selection of passengers -- the fact that they actually announced their reasoning made a crappy situation even worse. 

What do you think, was it fair for United Airlines to kick off its lower fare passengers? How could they have better handled the situation?

Was it fair for United Airlines to kick off the cheapest ticket holders?

8758 views & 1556 votes

Debate It! 11

Well duh, it IS a business...

Posted By ifly74,

Seriously, why is this an issue. If I paid more for my ticket (i usually book late and often pay the most, subsidizing the cheapskates), the airline is NOT kicking me off. Spirit Air CEO said it best, let them complain, they'll still come back to us to save $5 on a plane ticket in the future.

Posted By mehere,

If it is a weight issue, and they appear to have overloaded their plane with CARGO and BAGGAGE, perhaps they should have unloaded some of that CARGO and let the people fly. According to the article, it appears that the plane overbooked CARGO, not passengers. If, indeed, this is the case, the obvious solution should have been to delay the cargo and let the passengers fly, whatever the cost they may have to shell out for late delivery of packages. Of course, if that is an erroneous belief on my part, then they should look deeply into their policy of overbooking flights in order to keep them as full as possible to save cash, difficult business decision or not.

Posted By dedbob,

Assuming anyone needed to be kicked off, it seems obvious they should kick off the fat people. If you are fat, it costs more to transport you -- force = mass * acceleration, simple as that. That doesn't mean I'm not sympathetic to people born with disadvantages, but being fat is something that's within a person's control. And as far as there is any excuse for it, it's poverty -- fattening food is cheaper (the current farm subsidy system is an outrage). But these people could obviously afford the more expensive tickets, so that excuse doesn't make sense here. The plane was probably built for an average size person in whatever decade it was created. Even if it was only in the 90s, it would be wildly out of date because people are so much fatter now. If you are one of the people who's lack of self-restraint made it so the plane that used to be able to carry 80 people can only carry 50 today, YOU should be on the ground, sorry.

Posted By grivo,

My idea that I've not seen others post yet is to kick people off in reverse order of booking. That is, if I booked my ticket 6 months ago and the guy next to me booked last week, sorry, I was ahead of him and he should go while I stay. First come, first served.

Posted By ktappe,

@ktappe That's the best way to do it in my opinion. Who cares if you spent 300 extra on a ticket just because you waited till the day before. United Airlines is Naughty lol. If it were me being told that i would probably end up in TWA custody because I would have made a scene!

Posted By derekamoss,

Why is paying the least for a ticket embarrassing? I would think the fact that I paid less for the exact same seat to be a point of pride, not shame.

Posted By galawyer,

It's illogical to piss off your regular business customer that pays the $1,000 walk-up fares over a family of four that paid $600 aggregate and won't fly again for 5 years. 'Fair' has nothing to do with it. 'Fair' would mean everyone pays the same per ticket, regardless of when it was booked. So if you leisure travelers are moaning and groaning about this episode of an airline rightfully treating it's business travelers better then you cattle class vacationers, I suggest we do away with the system of walk-up fares subsidizing leisure travel. Everyone pays the same 'Fair' ticket price. Every ticket's now $750, regardless of when you booked. Works for me, saves me money.

Posted By mehere,

Clearly the responsible thing to do would be to remove cargo and leave the passengers to fly on the flight. Why should passengers be removed from a plane because the airline oversold cargo space?

Posted By Shr3kk,

Just a few points as someone who has done weight and balance for an airline: 1. All people are considered to weigh the same by the FAA. Each passenger is 185 pounds in the summer and 195 in the winter. Children under 12 are half. 2. Bags all weigh 30 pounds. A duffel (heavier) bag is 50 pounds. In this day and age, when people are checking fewer bags because of the charges, you have to resort to pulling people off the flight, do to a weight issue. You HAVE to have a certain weight in the cargo bins. The proper way this should have been done is by reverse order of check-in. On an oversold flight, this is how the denied boarding passengers are determined. It sounds like someone didn't know how to handle a weight restricted flight. Ticket price does play some part in the decision, too, since the people that paid more are usually frequent fliers and deserve better treatment. But it shouldn't have been the sole factor.

Posted By bydesign77,

@mehere - Just because you paid more for the flight does not mean you are more entitled to fly. Being frugal is smart booking last minute is not. @grivo - just because you are a small napoleon complex person doesn't mean weight should be the determining factor. There are plenty of athletes who weigh more because they have more muscle and they are taller. The responsible thing to do would be to start with incentives to remove people. Then move to last minute check ins and last buy last on. Of course if someone is in their Gold or Platinum levels they should be exempt.

Posted By thezone,

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