The video of Dr. David Dao being dragged down the aisle of United Airlines flight is still fresh in everyone’s mind. If you haven’t seen it by now, you are one of the few. The videos have gone viral on YouTube and have been viewed millions of times.
Have you figured out the flaw in the way Dr. Dao was removed from the aircraft? He had already boarded! United’s rule only applies to denied boarding, not removing someone once seated. The video clearly shows Dao had already boarded and taken a seat. There is nothing in the overbooked flight rule that allows United to remove a passenger that is already on the the plane.
Rosa Parks and Civil Disobedience
What to Do if You Are Asked to Get Off an Overbooked Flight
When Can an Airline Remove You from a Plane
- To comply with a government request (immigration, TSA, national defense, etc.)
- Acts of God, terrorist activities, war
- Refusal to consent to search
- Refusal to provide identification
- Failure to pay for your ticket or other charges (if your credit card is declined, the airline can ask you to get off the plane!)
- Disorderly conduct
- Assaultive or violent behavior
- Bare feet or inappropriate attire (United is still reeling from their decision to remove two young ladies in March for wearing leggings)
- Possession of weapons
- Being drunk or high
- Being so large that you cant fit in one seat (the airline has the discretion to allow you to purchase two seats)
- Having certain communicable diseases
- Pregnant women in their 9th month of pregnancy
- Certain passengers with extraordinary medical conditions
- Physical or mental incapacity such that you can’t keep yourself together
- Body odor
- Not complying with crew member instructions (more on that below)
- And yes, not keeping your electronic device in airplane mode!
Lest you think that the airline can remove you from an overbooked flight simply for failure to listen to a crew member instruction, implied in that rule is that the instruction is lawful. For example, if flight attendant instructed passengers to get undressed, such an instruction would not be legal.
Note: We are a an anti-fraud and class action law firm. We do not take individual cases against airlines. This post is offered for general information. We cannot offer legal advice to non-clients and we certainly can’t offer legal advice via a blog post. We do represent aviation whistleblowers, however. Click here to read how United Airlines may be illegally using faulty jet engine parts and covering up inspection irregularities.
Passengers have rights. Somewhere along the way, airlines forgot this important concept. Since this post was first drafted, we learned that United Airlines removed yet another passenger. One that had paid for a first class ticket. According to media reports, Geoff Fearns was threatened with handcuffs if he didn’t get off the plane.
Lest you think Mr. Munoz and United Airlines learned their lesson about how to treat passengers on an overbooked flight, Fearns says he was offered a $500 voucher but only after he hired a lawyer.
It’s time for Congress to stop allowing airlines to overbook flights. Congress also needs to mandate better rights for passengers. And for Oscar Munoz? Let’s just say that he should go quietly into the night. Until then, we certainly be flying United until there is a change in corporate culture. (We don’t blame the police or ticket agents for the Dao fiasco, although the incident should have been handled better. The blame rests solely in United’s C-suite and with the board of directors.)
Post by Brian Mahany, Esq.
MahanyLaw – America’s Fraud Recovery Lawyers. www.mahanyertl.com