It was a tough choice between the title above and, “United Airlines Hits Bottom, Digs.” A week after losing close to a billion dollars in share value after forcing a ticketed, seated passenger to get off a plane such that one of their own staff could take his seat, via police who caused enough injury to require hospitalization in the process, and 2 weeks after they denied 2 middle school girls boarding under a sexist dress code policy they apply to family members of United employees, you might think that United would be on their best behavior.
“Hold my beer,” United CEO Oscar Munoz can metaphorically (if not literally) be heard shouting across the terminal.
Earlier this week, a New York mom reported that she was required to go to the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol office at Newark Airport to pick up her husband and young daughter, on vacation in Mexico for a week, because a passenger presenting no reason other than the daughter’s skin color was lighter than the father’s told a United flight attendant that she found the pair to be suspicious, and United, apparently agreeing, had federal law enforcement meet the plane. Mom is of Irish descent, and dad, Mexican, and this by itself is enough to get dragged off the flight upon arrival, assuming you were allowed to fly in your own seat in the first place:
After our 3-year-old snoozed on her father’s lap for most of the flight, the plane landed. He texted me to tell me they had arrived. When the plane taxied to the gate, however, a number of officers from the Port Authority and Customs and Border Patrol boarded the plane, approached my husband and instructed him to grab his carry-ons and follow them. He and our daughter were escorted out of the plane before anyone else could get off.
The passenger who shared her “concern” with the flight attendants had been sitting next to my husband. According to him, she had been friendly throughout the flight, but my husband noticed her strange obsession with our daughter, sometimes throwing her body over his to try to engage my daughter.
As compensation for this “re-accommodation,” as surely Mr. Munoz would call it, United offered the family a $100 travel voucher.
I think what is even more surprising to me is that the commentary on even the strongly left-leaning Huffington Post, who appears to have broke the story, contained a plethora of comments defending the actions of the passenger, flight attendants, and CBP, because it’s always “better to be safe than sorry” (just as they would assuredly dismiss the TSA touching your genitals with “anything to keep us safer”). (Click the little thought bubble on the left to read)
Alexis Nola, for example, is a fan of “see something, say something…”
…and pay no mind to the fact that she was sitting peacefully with her father for the whole flight, because she may have been too drugged to express her situation, even though she could walk on and off the plane…
Kimberly Ziegelheafer wants us to know that child trafficking is “running rampant” and, apparently, stopping every adult/child pair who does not look alike (er, let’s be real here, it’s only a father/child pair who would encounter this form of discrimination), dragging them into the back room of a CBP office, and not releasing them until someone female alleges that she is the mother and all is well…
Carolyn Sue Greig alleges she would have baked cookies for these assholes, had it been her husband and child…
But I assume the white woman from Texas with 2 first names has probably never experienced discrimination in her life and does not understand that yes, this is a big deal. There are millions of children in this country with step-parents who look nothing like their child, and they don’t deserve to be dragged off of flights. It’s traumatizing to the child and, frankly, to the adult as well. It also doesn’t take more than a cursory search of the Internet to find that fathers alone with child are regularly given extra scrutiny, whether it’s at the playground or, apparently, simply traveling home.
United Airlines had no business reporting this incident to the police absent the suspecting passenger being able to articulate some reason for her suspicion beyond the color of their skin (the same goes for Muslim-looking men who are dragged off of planes after purely imagined suspicious behavior). This family is owed much more than a $100 voucher, and I, for one, hope to see Mr. Munoz given the boot after another billion gets wiped off their market cap.