In recent news, Dr. David Dao, a passenger on an United Airlines flight, was forcibly removed from the plane, after he refusing to give-up his seat. When the story first broke, many sided with the passenger. Watching video footage, where an adult male screamed as he is being pulled from his paid seat, seemed a bit irrational. Many wondered: why was this man being pulled from his seat after he paid for it? The answer came days later.
Who’s at Fault?
In the days proceeding the event, media sources gave light to the situation that occurred. In some cases, sources sided with Dr. Dao, and in others, with United. With both sides of the issue presented, many still wonder: can this really happen? And if so, will it happen to me? Within the mix of media coverage, the importance of knowing one’s rights as a passenger was exploited.
As a frequent flyer, I took interest in this story. Although I have never flown with United, I have traveled by air with various carriers, none of which I have had a problem with. That being said, I have also never witnessed a passenger being forcibly removed from a plane. When this story broke, I first sided with Dr. Dao, but quickly changed my opinion as information on the event surfaced.
In this situation, Dao should of did a number of things. First, he should not of refused to exit the aircraft. By being a disgruntled passenger, the airline has the right to legally remove the passenger from the aircraft. Secondly, and most importantly, Dao should have had knowledge on his rights as a passenger. If he knew his rights, there is a chance he would have exited the aircraft as a civilize adult.
Understand Your Rights
Although it is morally wrong, an airline has the right to overbook their flights, bump a passenger and forcibly remove a passenger. Because of this, it is the passenger’s responsibility to understand and respect the policies of the airline they book with.
As a paying customer, know your rights! Flight overbooking and bumping is common, but that doesn’t mean you should suffer. Avoid worrying about your next trip, and instead educate yourself. According to the Department of Transportation’s regulations on airlines, airlines are required to do the following by law:
- If a flight is overbooked, they must first ask for VOLUNTEERS.
- If a passenger is bumped from a flight, the airline must give a detailed WRITTEN NOTICE stating your rights as a passenger.
- If you are involuntary removed from a flight, the airline must provide you with COMPENSATION.
In the case of Dr. Dao, United Airlines is a company, like any other, who’s looking to make a profit. Although, he was removed from the plane, it was under his own accord.
So, as a concerned citizen, I urge every traveler to understand the agreements they sign when purchasing products, tickets, etc. Sometimes, you may think the company is acting illegally, but in reality they are abiding by the policies they have put into place.