We’re all familiar with the fact that United repeatedly sells more tickets for their flights than they have room for passengers. They hope that among a hundred or more passengers, at least a couple will miss a connecting flight, get sick, or otherwise fail to make the gate. Lots of times this is true and the money United gives out to compensate travelers for voluntarily bumping themselves to a later flight is less than the money United takes in by selling the same seat twice. Occasionally, however, the fact that United sold the same seat to two or more different people creates an awkward problem for them. No volunteers? Well, for failing to aid United in committing fraud by selling a product that does not, in fact, exist, you can be dragged off the plane by police officers, beaten, and seriously injured.
Yep. That’s bad.
Fortunately, someone at United eventually came out and mumbled something about how the passenger that was beaten and dragged may not have been the entire problem and that, on some abstract level, the situation might have been mildly affected by the fact that United was selling tickets for seats that didn’t exist after being caught committing that fraud before and pinky-swearing to the FAA that they didn’t need to pass any new laws (or charge United using more general, criminal laws like interstate fraud statutes) because United was totes never going to do it again.
Unfortunately, when United employees were talking amongst themselves and one employee said, “Jeez, that’s the worst possible thing we could have done to create bad PR out of a seating arrangement,” another employee apparently said Hold my beer:
an intoxicated man sexually harassed [Jennifer Rafieyan] while she sat next to her 12-year old daughter on a United flight, ABC 7 reports.
… “I saw the flight attendants bring a very intoxicated man down the aisle, she had her hands on his hips, she put him in the seat next to me,” Rafieyan said. According to Rafieyan, the man “started touching my leg, grabbing my knees, holding my hand.” “I kept holding his hand because it was better than him touching my knee and leg,” she added.
… [S]he wrote a complaint to airline, noting “both flight attendants gave me warnings about him” prior to sitting him next to her. … Rafieyan noted that she complained to a flight attendant who shrugged it off. “I’m sorry. We felt really bad putting him next to you but there was nothing we could do,” Rafieyan recalled her saying.
So, to sum up: refuse to assist United in committing interstate fraud, they’ll kick you off the plane entirely, though perhaps next time they’ll ask the cops to be slightly gentler in your removal. Sexually assault a woman on the plane? Well, there is just nothing United can do.
Of course, the victim being a woman and sexual assaults of this kind being so common, it’s likely that UnitedEmployee2 will have failed in the attempt to make this a bigger PR disaster than the assault on the doctor. Still, that’s a heck of an effort there, United.