Lately, United Airlines’ longstanding motto, Fly the Friendly Skies, has taken a serious tumble. On a recent flight four passengers were told they had to disembark to make room for airline personnel. One of the chosen was a doctor who refused to give up his seat, using a lame excuse that he had an ethical obligation to see patients the next morning. There’s one in every crowd. There are also cell phones in every crowd, and many took videos of security guards dragging the 69-year old Asian American doctor down the aisle, ejecting him from the plane, complete with a broken nose and two lost teeth.

The bad news for United: Within an hour those videos went viral, making international news. The good news:  – United’s stock actually took off – soared – the very next day, increasing the company’s market cap by $355 million. Apparently, investors were impressed by United’s new slogan, “At United, we’ll treat you as well as we treat your luggage!” And now United now has plenty of ready cash for the lawsuits.

The airlines’ CEO, Oscar Munoz, wasted no time in defending their policy: “If you don’t have many Frequent Flyer miles and you paid a low price for your ticket, we have the right to remove you. Be grateful we carry this out while still on the ground. The Board of Directors argued for inflight ejections, but we couldn’t agree on whether or not to supply parachutes.” Today, however, amidst public furor, United reversed itself and issued several new policy guidelines to reassure hesitant travelers that once again, the airline is committed to bringing back the friendly skies. Effective immediately, United will make the following changes in its passenger policies:

No longer will passengers be tasered for asking for a second bag of peanuts.

Passengers whose luggage exceeds the 50-pound weight limit will no longer have to pay a fee. Instead, the offending luggage will simply be returned to the baggage claim customer service desk – at the place of origin – once the flight has taken off.

Passengers who attempt to board before their section has been called will no longer be exposed to full body cavity searches. If they are suspected of trying to smuggle snacks onto the plane, searches will be narrowly confined to the breast and groinal areas.

Passengers who fail to fit their carry-on luggage into the overhead compartment will no longer have their bags confiscated and sold to the highest bidder.

Passengers who exceed the ten-minute limit in the lavatory will no longer be subjected to an announcement over the PA that “the passenger in seat 32B has exceeded their bathroom time allotment.”  Instead, all other passengers will be encouraged to hurl their second bag of peanuts at the infractor upon his exiting the lavatory.

First class passengers who complain about their meal will no longer be downgraded to coach for being so ungrateful. But they won’t get the Crème brûlée dessert.

Passengers who repeatedly press the call button causing a disturbance to the cabin crew will no longer be subjected to verbal abuse by a flight attendant. They will simply be shunned for the duration of the flight.

People suspected of stealing the in-flight magazine will no longer be frisked upon disembarkment. Living with the guilt of what you’ve done should be punishment enough for your brazen thievery.

Finally, if United is overbooked and needs volunteers to leave the plane, security guards will never again haul a passenger down the aisle against their will. Instead, flight attendants will sedate them, quietly place them in a wheel chair, and shove them out the emergency exit – preferably before the plane has begun taxying.

Sounds like United has learned its lesson.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time


© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2017

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