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Friday, 14 April 2017

He took my place.

Many will have watched the video of a doctor being forcibly removed from an aeroplane, in the USA, at the beginning of this week. The social media reaction was, I suppose, not unexpected as the airline - United  - was deluged with a torrent of abuse, and demands that the crew be sacked; the airline closed down; and the doctor be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour! (Okay, I didn't read that last one anywhere - but I wouldn't have been surprised!).

It was interesting, to say the least, to read a response from someone who describes herself as a pilot's wife, and who begins by making the point that there are always two sides to a story. She makes the following points, that none of the MSM have made, and that appear not to have been considered by the 
general public.

"Things to consider:
1) “You can’t just kick a paying customer off the plane!”    Psssst! It’s in the fine print. They can, indeed, do just that. And it’s not an airline specific rule, it’s a commercial aviation rule. Every ticket you purchase comes with a plethora of fine print–you know, the stuff we just click ‘next’ on without actually reading what we are agreeing to. Yeah, that. Well, it’s in there, and you checked the ‘I agree’ box when you purchased your ticket. You can read about it and oh-so-much-more here. Kind of makes you want to read all those tiny words on your next phone update before you click ‘I agree’, huh? You should. United did not break any law, and he agreed to the policy and possibility of involuntary bump when he bought his ticket. And so do you.
2) “Kicking a paying customer off an airplane!? I’m taking my business to Southwest!” Ummmm, okay. But just be sure you understand that every major airline, Southwest included, has a similar policy for involuntary bumping in a ‘must ride’ scenario.  Don’t believe me? It’s called the contract of carriage. If you’re really bored, you can read Southwest’s here. Or Delta’s here. Believe me, it’s in there.  This could have been any airline.  In fact, it happens all the time. Most people just don’t wrestle the feds in the aisle.  
3: “So what’s this ‘must ride’ nonsense anyway? They shouldn’t bump a paying customer for a free employee ride!” I’m afraid you’re going to have to take this up with the federal government, not United. And it’s actually pretty important to you as an airline traveller anyway. They were not ‘freeloading home’. That’s called non-rev and they have to wait in line behind your checkbook and often don’t make it home to their families if flights are booked (believe me, I know). No, this was a must fly, a positive space situation. In layman terms, it means that a crew must be flown to an airport to man a flight in order to avoid cancellation of said flight due to crew unavailability. This is a federal DOT regulation, not an airline one. The airlines are required to do so to avoid disruption of air traffic. In other words, if there are no willing volunteers and they need seats to get a crew somewhere to avoid disruption of aviation flow, they can, will, must by federal regulation bump people for the better good of the 1000’s. Why? Because one cancelled flight has a serious domino effect in the delicate, complicated world of connections and aviation law.
4: “It’s the airline’s fault for not planning better!” You obviously have no clue about the complexities of aviation travel and should do some research. There are about a million and one things that can cause a crew shortage including but not limited to weather, maintenance, weather, connecting fight delays, weather, FAA timeout regs, and did I mention weather? I wish I could control Mother Nature because I would be one filthy rich person. But I can’t. And neither can United. So they inconvenience one, or four, to keep hundreds on track. Do the maths. And of course, if we were on the other end of this thing, we’d be tirading and blowing up the internet because United didn’t bump a passenger to make sure our flight didn’t get cancelled and left hundreds stranded. Damned if you do; damned if you don’t. We’re a fickle crowd, we social media folks.
5: “They shouldn’t have picked the minority Chinese doctor! It’s racist.”    That’s just silly. Though federal regulation demands they involuntarily bump to prevent interruption of flights when necessary, each airline does have the leniency to determine how they choose the bumped passengers. They did not play spin the bottle or walk down the aisle looking for the Asian guy. Use your heads, people! There is a computerised algorithm that takes into account  price of ticket, how long ago it was purchased, whether or not they can get the passenger to their destination in a timely manner, etc. It wasn’t an ‘Asian thing.’ Stop, people. Just stop.
6: “United should go under for assaulting that passenger! Fire the entire crew!”   Read the facts. United never touched the passenger. In fact, by all witness accounts, the United flight crew remained calm and pleasant throughout the entire event, never laying hands on the passenger. They followed protocol as required by law. Once law enforcement became involved (also as required by federal protocol), United stepped out of the decision-making process. They had nothing to do with the rest. The passenger was forcibly removed by federal aviation security (the disturbing clip that everyone is talking about) after running back into the secured area after being escorted out once. Once he did that, like it or not, they (law enforcement) were under full discretion of the law to apply necessary force to remove the threat. I’m not saying it’s pretty, but the only one who actually broke a law was the passenger. There’s a reason for these laws – it’s called 9/11. We can’t have it both ways. But by all means, let’s berate and punish an entire flight crew – in fact thousands of pilots, flight attendants, gate attendants, ground crew, etc. – because it makes us all feel a little better.
7: “You piece of **it!”     I get that the passengers were upset, angry, maybe even confused. I get that you are too. After all, media is tossing you out chunks of bloody meat like you’re a pack of starving wolves. But I’m seriously disgusted that the poor must ride crew that had to take those seats after the unfortunate mess that unravelled were verbally abused and threatened. Can you imagine the very uncomfortable position they were in? Then they were demeaned, belittled, threatened. Along with many others all over the internet and airports today. They were and are men and women doing their jobs to feed their families. Just. Like. You.  They didn’t have a choice. They didn’t ask for this. They didn’t assault anyone. They are not a corporation; they are individuals who need a job. They are my friends and maybe even my husband. There’s a very fine line between what you despise and becoming what you despise.  Many of the comments and actions I have seen perpetrated against United employees cross it. 
Don’t become what you hate.
Like I said, I know you’re mad at United, but there’s much more to the story than hits the media fan. I truly hope that this gives you something to chew on and gives you a smidgen more insight into the complexities of aviation. I’m not making excuses. I think there were bad decisions made on both sides. However, I am saying there are always two sides to every story. Make sure you consider them both.
***A correction to the previous article. Mr. Dao was indeed Vietnamese and not Chinese.  That quote was verbatim from a comment off the internet. I apologise profusely for the confusion.
Angelia (A Pilot Wife)"
That is not the whole piece. If you wish to read it all, you may do so at:
Now I am not another supporter of the United airline - until this story broke, I wasn't even aware of its existence! - but an American pastor has taken an important lesson from the story.
Today is Good Friday. This is the day in the year when many people take special remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Christ. There was no need for the incident in the airplane to happen. All that was required was for one other passenger to say: "This man is a doctor. His flight is more important. I'll take his place and leave the aircraft." That passenger would have been lauded; he would have been very well compensated; and, according to the pilot's wife, the airline would have pulled out all of the stops to get him on an alternative flight (I suspect, if necessary, even one operated by one of their commercial competitors!). It didn't happen!
Yet, almost 2,000 years ago, on the first "Good Friday", that is exactly what Almighty God, in the Lord Jesus, did. He looked at you and at me, in all of our sin; worthy of nothing but His righteous judgement, wrath, and punishment.  And He took our place!  Centuries before, the Jewish prophet, Isaiah, had been granted a glimpse into the future, and had written " ... He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (53:5-6; emphases added; read the whole chapter!).
On this Good Friday, are you willing to confess your sins and your need of the forgiveness of Almighty God? You see, He won't force salvation on you; you have to recognise your need of it, and then come to Him to receive it. If you need some more personal counsel, please feel free to use the e-mail address at the top of the blog; or speak with a disciple of Jesus whom you already know. Any true disciple will be delighted to help.
Oh, and don't forget - "It's Friday - but Sunday's coming"!!!

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