Just one week before a passenger was dragged from his United Airlines seat, another customer experienced a very similar situation.
While sitting in a first class seat on a plane headed to Los Angeles, businessman Geoff Fearns was all ready to go home when a flight attendant told him to get off the plane to make room for a higher-priority passenger — there had been an unexpected change in aircraft, and the additional passenger was going to take his place.
“If you are not willing to voluntarily de-plane, then we will call security and have you physically escorted off the plane,” Fearns said he was told.
“At that point, it was either, comply or we'll summon security and physically evict you,” he added.
After the unexpected incident, the businessman was eventually able to find an open seat in coach, making him lose working time. But on top of all that, Fearns told reporters, he also lost respect for the company.
After the entire ordeal, the man was only able to get a refund for the difference between his first-class ticket and the economy ticket after he emailed a service representative a week later. The company also offered him a credit for a future trip.
If Fearns' experience was legitimate and United has been in the habit of threatening passengers who refuse to give up their seat after being allowed to board the plane, this may indicate a pattern that should be investigated.
As we all know, David Dao is now suing United after the nightmare he went through Sunday when airport security dragged him out of a plane headed to Kentucky. The video showing the bloodied man being hauled out of the aircraft went viral, and on social media, many users showed a great deal of support to the passenger.
Later in a statement, United said that “[n]o one should ever be mistreated this way,” but the damage had already been done, as the company had already described the passenger as belligerent and disruptive.
“If it happened to me in first class, it can happen to anyone,” Fearns stated.
That's why passengers should know their rights and make sure they know what to do in similar circumstances.