(Fred Weinberg) – You would think that after United Airlines hauled a 69-year-old physician off a plane because he refused to give up his seat to four crew members who some dork at the airline thought needed to be repositioned from Chicago to Louisville and the company lost a BILLION dollars from its market cap, the rest of the legacy airlines would take note.
United wrote Dr. David Dao a check for an undisclosed but probably huge amount of money in an attempt to make it go away, but the words, “United Airlines” have become a punchline in many standup comedy routines.
Still, you’d have thought that other people in the industry would have taken note.
They apparently don’t supply cabin crews and gate agents at Delta Airlines with pencils and notebooks because last week, a Delta employee told a father of an infant and a two year old that in spite of the fact he bought a ticket for the infant so he could sit in a car seat, AS DELTA AND THE FAA RECOMMEND, they would have to give up that seat to a standby passenger and hold the infant, which is decidedly NOT recommended by either the airline or the FAA.
When he politely declined, here’s what Delta employees told Brian Schear of Huntington Beach, CA:
“So this is a federal offense. You and your wife could be in jail and your kids will be in foster care.”
“We’re going to be in jail and my kids are going to be what?” Schear interrupted.
“It’s a federal offense if you don’t abide by it,” she said.
“I bought that seat … you’re saying you’re going to give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat. That’s not right,” Schear responded.
The geniuses at Delta then continued to both misquote Federal regulations and Delta’s actual policy on a number of issues.
Then they kicked all four Schears off the plane.
There seems to be a culture at the legacy airlines (those which have all gone bankrupt and merged) that any member of the flight crew or gate agent is some kind of a mall cop with Federal authority.
Those morons at Delta in the video could probably have been arrested for impersonating a human being.
Of course, Delta has now “apologized” and made a financial settlement with the Schears.
It’s about time that both the management of these so-called airlines make clear to their employees that a) they have virtually NO legal authority as regards anything but cabin safety and, then, only when they are in the air, and; b) they are not even mall cops.
As I’ve mentioned before, I do not have these problems because most of my heavy travel schedule is done on a real airline, Southwest.
I’ve probably talked to 15 Southwest flight attendants since the United incident and most of them could not even offer a legal defense of the United position since it wasn’t even an overbooking situation in spite of bad media reporting.
Nobody could defend what was done because those things are simply not done by real companies which care about their reputations.
United hasn’t had “friendly skies” for years. American isn’t “something special in the air” and Delta is just a crappy airline without any memorable advertising to its credit.
But there seems to be a corporate culture at each of them which allows them to abuse their customers without any consequence.
We don’t need a new law here. We need customers to continue to tell the airlines to go to hell. ON THE GROUND. Enough of these incidents and sooner or later, there WILL be an airborne safety situation in which the flight crew is ignored with disastrous consequences.
When you have 175 people in a pressurized steel tube at 31,000 feet moving at 500 miles an hour, there is really no room for stupidity. Unfortunately, most of the legacy airlines seem to have gone out of their way to at least appear stupid. During the boarding process.
The bulk of these incidents happen on the ground during boarding.
The relevant international convention which addresses such regulation, the Tokyo Convention in September of 1963, frankly gives state actors no specific authority to either deputize gate agents or prosecutors to prosecute such incidents.
Who’s to blame here?
The C-Suite executives who are so afraid of the unions they do nothing to the employees who precipitate these incidents.
If they set a corporate culture which made stupidity like we have seen a fireable offense and enforced it, it wouldn’t happen. And, if they can’t?
Nobody should be too big to fail.
Mr. Weinberg is publisher of the Penny Press. Get to know more about him by visiting www.PennyPressNV.com.