Flying the Not So Friendly Skies

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve read about United Airline’s forced removal of a passenger from a flight on Sunday. The video is disturbing – A bleeding man is literally dragged down the isle of the aircraft while other passengers plead with police officers. Numerous passengers filmed the incident and now United is facing some serious backlash from consumers. The outcry from the internet seems to be that this man’s rights were violated; he bought a ticket, wasn’t acting up, and should have been permitted to stay on the flight despite the overbooking.

A few things to keep in mind before I get on my soap box:

  • United should have handled this situation prior to boarding the aircraft. That is the usual procedure and it likely would have made for a much less aggressive situation.
  • Whether you take the time to read it or not, you do sign a passenger’s rights statement when you buy plane tickets that states you can be removed from a flight in the event of overbooking.
  • Just about all airlines overbook flights. Doesn’t make it right, but United shouldn’t be singled out.

Okay, that being said. Let me get out my soap liberal soap box…

There are plenty of laws on the books protecting a business’ right to mistreat customers or to deny service – and they don’t even have to be overbooked. They just have to claim a religious exemption. Hobby Lobby does not have to provide contraception. Businesses in some states do not have serve members of the LGBTQ+ community and anything defined as a “ministry” of a church (like a school) can be exempt from all kinds of supposed requirements in hiring and firing.

It’s easy to argue that this is different from the plight of our United passenger, that the above situations should be protected because of religious freedom or personal beliefs or whatever. After all, gay people are not dragged into the street when a baker refuses to make a wedding cake for them – their emotional turmoil doesn’t count, after all. And Hobby Lobby employees can just go buy their own contraception on their meager Hobby Lobby salaries. No one is forcing them to get pregnant even though it might be harder not to. Oh, and folks in the ministry sign a contract. They know what they are getting into when it comes to their rights!…. Just like the United passenger, right?

Honestly, I don’t have enough information to take sides in the case of the United Airlines issue right now. I’m in hide and wait mode. But honestly, if this outrages the conservative community, shouldn’t they be outraged about the above issues as well?

Your thoughts are welcome.

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