On the heels of United's heavy-handed removal of a booked passenger [soylentnews.org] comes another wonderful piece of news from United:
Fearns needed to return early so he paid about $1,000 for a full-fare, first-class ticket to Los Angeles. He boarded the aircraft at Lihue Airport on the island of Kauai, took his seat and enjoyed a complimentary glass of orange juice while awaiting takeoff.
Then, as Fearns tells it, a United employee rushed onto the aircraft and informed him that he had to get off the plane.
“I asked why,” he told me. “They said the flight was overfull.”
Apparently, due to technical problems, a different plane was used that had slightly less seats. So less first class seats.
So why bump off a first class passenger?
“That’s when they told me they needed the seat for somebody more important who came at the last minute,” Fearns said.
This ended up with Fearns being bumped down to economy class. With no recompensation offered. When contacting them to demand a refund and $25k for a charity of his choice, the reply was no on both accounts. But he was offered the difference between a first class ticket and the seat he was forced to occupy - between a couple that had a fight, refused to sit next to each other and spent the 6hrs of flight fighting. Oh, and $500 in United credit.
I realise this is just one side of the story, but still: this news surfacing the next day and these two events happening in the same week?
“I understand you might bump people because a flight is full,” Fearns said. “But they didn’t say anything at the gate. I was already in the seat. And now they were telling me I had no choice. They said they’d put me in cuffs if they had to.”
You couldn’t make this up if you tried.
Indeed, I could not.
For shame, United. For shame.