New guidelines for United pilots make it more difficult to throw off a passenger whose conduct is questionable. Would it have saved me from my “photo incident” ejection?
I focused on United’s updated alcohol guidelines for pilots yesterday and flight attendants today, but that is not the only thing that has changed. Brian Sumers also notes that United has updated its passenger removal policy.
It now explicitly states that a passenger cannot be removed due to physical appearance, race, gender, religion, gender identity or ethnicity. Instead, it must be based on “thorough assessment” of the passenger’s behavior.
But what caught my eye was the passenger removal “process” that captains are supposed to engage in:
If considering the removal of a passenger, the captain shall:
- Huddle with fellow crew members to assess the situation
- Discuss and evaluate resolutions with the Purser, Customer Service Agent, Customer Resolution Officer (CRO) and Ground Security Coordinator (GSC)
- If after a through assessment, the decision is made the remove the passenger, then the removal shall be accomplished by Customer Service. Customer Service employees a variety of removal protocols, dependent on the situations.
In an internal note, @united SVP of flight operations tells pilots the airline has updated its passenger removal policy. A United spokesman tells me this is no big deal, saying “That language has been in the various manuals for our customer-facing employees for quite some time.” pic.twitter.com/zYzwSdUvEO
— Brian Sumers (@BrianSumers) August 13, 2019
My “walk of shame” was led by a Customer Service agent…who profusely apologized to me and said the flight crew was totally overreacting.
I bring up my incident not to rehash it, but in hopes that with United’s new emphasis on core4, a pilot would not simply defer to one misguided and frazzled flight attendant. Because the captain has a responsibility to keep all passengers safe, including passengers facing untruthful allegations from troubled flight attendants. In my case, there was no “thorough assessment”. Instead, there was just a total deferment to one lying flight attendant.
The captain retains the ultimate authority to request the removal of any passenger in the interest of safety. But that doesn’t mean the captain should be a rubber stamp for overzealous flight attendants. Hopefully this updated policy will help pilots be more discerning, even as they grapple with the negative ramifications of overruling the wishes of a fellow crew member.
image: United Airlines