Thursday, April 13, 2017

UAL board of directors, it’s time to fire Oscar Munoz. Congress, it’s time to get off your butts and re-regulate airline travel. (Fat chance!)

What next? Will United Airlines throw you off the plane in
mid-air if they don't like your looks?
Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, thinks he can tough it out and not resign, after the horrifying incident in which a paying and seated passenger was ordered off the plane for the convenience of United, and then beaten by a pair of thugs when he refused to go.

After first issuing a line of doublespeak, worthy of George Orwell, about “re-accommodating” passengers, instead of apologizing for beating the crap out of one of them….

After then praising the crew for this incident as an example of  “continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right”…

After United Airlines showed such brutal and wanton disrespect of the implicit contract it signs when you buy and pay for a ticket, that you'll get a seat on the ticketed flight...(And please don’t tell me about the  mind-boggling list of terms and conditions, set in nearly unreadable mouse type, that take it all back somewhere on the back of the ticket)….

After all that, the backlash was so powerful, and the impact on United’s stock so devastating that it created over a quarter of a billion dollar loss for stockholders in just one day. Munoz finally realized he was in deeper doodoo than he at first imagined. 

So he offered a new statement contradicting everything he said before, declaring, “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”

Not so quick, Mr. Munoz. Your airline beat the crap out of a passenger for legitimately sitting in the seat he had bought and paid for. You defended the practices that led to this atrocity. You changed your mind only when you saw the press, airline passengers, and stockholders coming for you with torches and pitchforks. 

So far as I’m concerned, you’re now speaking with all the sincerity and humanity of a pit viper. And you deserve to be treated like the pit viper you are.

This is not the first time United has affronted passengers. Nor the second. Nor the third, fourth, fifth. They’ve thrown a family off a flight because their teen-aged daughter was autistic. They stranded a ten year old child at a major airport. They even killed somebody’s pet golden retriever. All those stories and others here:

For that matter, they unsympathetically stranded The New York Crank in Dayton, Ohio for 24 hours, as I previously reported on this blog. 

And this just in: "A MapLight/International Business Times review of records kept by the Center for Responsive Politics found that during the last two-year session of Congress, the airline spent $7.26 million to fight legislation that included measures to create minimum airline seat sizes; require airlines to allow families to sit together on flights; and prohibit airlines from charging customers to use an airplane bathroom."

Alas, mistreating paying passengers is so wide spread that even an airline I once adored, Jet Blue, has begun straying  into the passenger abuse business.

So I’m not late to the party with this commentary. I’ve just come back to it with more beer. We’re going to have to stick it out — and keep up the pressure — until we get a Congress and a president who are willing to re-regulate the airlines, so that you’re not risking your life or the shape of your face the  every time you get on an airplane.

It won't happen under a President Trump or a Congress and Senate full or Republicans. But that is simply another reason to stay politically active and throw out the Republican bums in Congress and the Senate. Real change will happen if you never stop demanding. Keep up the pressure!

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