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Apparently it's now fine for airlines to drag off a passenger if it comes out later he has a criminal record
No. It's not.
Here's a question: Did the media go digging up the guy's criminal history on its own? Or did the airlines put some oppo researcher on the case and feed it to a friendly reporter? Because that would be one hell of a PR counteroffensive if it turned out the airline's fingerprints were on it.
Better question: Does it matter? Is a corporation justified in treating a customer like inhuman garbage if it comes out after the fact that the customer had a history of being a bad, bad boy?
Dr. David Dao was charged with 98 felony drug counts in 2003 for illegally prescribing and trafficking painkillers such as hydrocodone, OxyContin and Percocet, according to TMZ.
According to a criminal complaint filed against him, Dao also allegedly solicited sex from a male patient in exchange for drug prescriptions.
Dao, who attended medical school in Vietnam in the 1970s, was eventually convicted on six felony counts of obtaining drugs by fraud and deceit.
Dao was placed on five years of supervised probation in January 2005, although he surrendered his medical license one month later, according to the Courier-Journal.
So Dao has a criminal history. Got it. And why exactly is that relevant?
I guess it has to do with the fact that a lot of people sympathized with his reason for not wanting to get off the flight. If he really had to see patients in the morning, people who presumably needed his care and desperately so, then it's hard to understand why the airline wouldn't have simply passed over him and chosen someone else. If he has a criminal history and he's a great big fraud, then maybe he's not such a sympathetic figure and maybe the airline has a somewhat better chance of digging out from what's become a PR disaster.
But the character of the man in question is really not the issue.
The airline didn't research the passengers and then order the four most horrible people to exit the aircraft. They had no idea. They simply picked four people randomly, not because the flight was truly overbooked but because they wanted to make room for four of their own employees - thus making a judgment call that United's own corporate priorities were more important than those of their passengers, which is what we tend to refer to as extremely poor customer service.
Even if it's true that United had a legal right to order Dao off the plane even though he had paid for his ticket - and apparently they did - that isn't the same thing as saying they handled the situation in the best way they could. You've got a hysterical passenger pleading with you not to make him get off the plane. What are your options. One is to physically drag him off the plane kicking and screaming while the other passengers plead with you to stop and shoot video of you ignoring their pleas and dragging him off anyway. That's one option. Is it your only option? Is it your best option?
Whatever the reason the employees absolutely had to get on the plane was obviously within the control of United Airlines, so if they had a meeting to get to or something along those lines, it surely could have been rescheduled. Wouldn't that have caused the company less trouble than what actually happened? I realize the passengers weren't responding to the offers of monetary compensation to get off the plane, but wouldn't it have been feasible to up the offer at little to try to get at least one taker? Maybe you would have then had to give the same deal to the three who cooperated and left after being ordered to do so, but even that would have been much less of a disaster than what they've got on their hands now.
But this whole thing started because United decided to prioritize the travel needs of its own employees above those of paying customers. Is anyone surprised that didn't turn out well?
If the PR strategy now is to say Dao deserved the inhumane treatment because he's a terrible person, I wish anyone well who has a checkered past and might consider flying United. If they decide to randomly drag you off the plane, they might also drag your name through the mud in order to minimize the PR damage of having done so.
Is this really the kind of company you want to do businesss with? I wish you luck if so. You're going to need it.
Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!