How long must an airline wait before asking police to escort off an unruly passenger?
I appreciated the discussion yesterday on the Southwest dragging indent. While I asserted that dragging off a passenger is simply never justified, many disagreed. Most argued that there reaches a point in which there is no other viable option and that dragging off a passenger, while never preferred, is better than causing 120 people delays or missed connections.
The issue that has haunted me over the last day is identifying a better solution than forcibly removing a passenger. I argued, “There had to be another way to get her off the airplane” but did not propose a viable alternative. Someone asked, “Please tell us what that would be when an individual flat out refuses.”
And I can’t do it.
So now I can blame horrible redeye flight on Spirit Airlines, sleep deprivation, and lack of coffee before posting on why I came to a different conclusion yesterday. No, I won’t do that.
The issue before us is not how long must an airline reason with a passenger, but whether forced removal is justified when an airline concludes a passenger poses a safety risk and refuses to comply with crew member instructions.
There are some issues of overlap between the Southwest incident and Dao incident on United, but the issues are very distinct in other ways. United could have addressed the oversell issue with Dao as they do now, with progressively higher bidding to entice voluntary denied boarding. Surely once the price reached several thousands dollars there would be people willing to give up their seats.
The Southwest issue was not a problem of seat availability. It was an issue of how to best accommodate the incompatible special needs of two passengers. Southwest made the right call in removing the woman from the flight.
So I guess my bottom line is this: removing a passenger by force is never preferred, but since I cannot propose a better solution, it must be the lesser of two evils.
Did I miss anything? Anyone have a better alternative to get someone off an aircraft quickly that doesn’t involve tear gas?
Part of me still says I’d rather cancel a flight than injure a sick (deranged) woman by dragging her off a plane. But perhaps that is not the moral high ground after all…