United Airlines just threatened to forcibly haul off yet another one of its passengers because they overbooked their own flight, despite the fact that United Continental Holdings lost nearly $1 billion in market value after brutally dragging a man out of an overbooked plane.
Geoff Fearns paid $1,000 for a first class ticket from Hawaii to California last week because he needed to attend to his investment firm. After being seated, a United employee informed him he had to vacate his seat for a higher priority customer.
“That’s when they told me they needed the seat for somebody more important who came at the last minute,” Fearns said. “They said they have a priority list and this other person was higher on the list than me.”
When Fearns refused, United employees told him in no uncertain terms that he would be forcibly removed by any means necessary.
“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.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Fearns was then forced to sit in economy class between a married couple in the midst of a furious fight.
“They argued the whole way back,” Fearns recalled. “Nearly six hours. It was a lot of fun.”
Fearns wrote to the airline’s CEO Oscar Munoz asking for a full refund and for United to donate $25,000 to the charity of his choosing. United both requests. Instead, they gave him a $500 credit to use on another United flight, and gave back the difference in price between his first class ticket and the economy seat.
“Despite the negative experience, we hope to have your continued support,” a” corporate customer care specialist” wrote back to Fearns. “Your business is especially important to us and we’ll do our utmost to make your future contacts with United satisfactory in every respect.”
Fearns is now considering legal action against United. When asked if he would ever fly United again, he laughed in disbelief. “Are you kidding?”
Nathan Wellman is a Los Angeles-based journalist, author, and playwright. His less-political Youtube channel can be found here. Follow him on Twitter: @LightningWOW