Wise. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

One problem with the way that corporations treat citizens (as employees or customers) is that when there is a snafu, the corporation says what it will do and the citizen can only take it or leave it.  That’s not a “level playing field”, as I see it.   There were regulations regarding what United needed to offer, but I think we all know about regulatory capture and the reality that many of the rules are clearly one sided.

I’ve been in sales/customer service for most of my working years.  I learned a valuable lesson from one co-worker who showed me that, after a mistake on our part,  it’s better to ask a customer what they think is fair rather than offer something up front.  It helps the customer in trusting the outcome, and levels the playing field.  I asked him, “What if the customer is completely unreasonable?”  He replied, “Most people want to be fair, reasonable, and respected.  Besides, if the person is unreasonable, nothing we offer up front will suit them.”

I used that approach for many years and it’s never let me down.

So here is my suggestion to United and any other company in that predicament:

Next time you are oversold on a flight, announce to the seat holders that you need to re-purchase two seats (or whatever) and you would like any seat holder willing to do so, to please offer their proposals in writing and when you have collected all the proposals, assuming you have at least two, take the best two and move on.

Whatever that price is, it will be lower, in the long run, to what you wind up with doing it the current way.

Recommended by paulsimmons.


7 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Even easier option...

    …for crying out loud end the practice of overbooking flights!

    • The flight wasn't ooverbooked

      …per United Airlines’ official statment:

      United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said Tuesday that all 70 seats on United Express Flight 3411 were filled, but the plane was not overbooked as the airline previously reported. Instead, United and regional affiliate Republic Airlines, which operated the flight, selected four passengers to be removed to accommodate crew members needed in Louisville the next day. The passengers were selected based on a combination of criteria spelled out in United’s contract of carriage, including frequent-flier status, fare type, check-in time and connecting flight implications, among others, according to United.

      …and what happened was arguably illegal:

      The fact that the flight was not overbooked may seem trivial, or pedantic, but there is very important legal distinction to be made. There may not be a difference in how an airline (typically) responds when it needs additional seats, such as asking for volunteers who wish to give up their seat for a voucher or cash. But there is a legal difference between bumping a passenger in the instance of overselling a flight versus bumping a passenger to give priority to another passenger. Any thoughtful person can see the problem that arises if an airline were allowed to legally remove one fare-paying passenger to allow for another passenger it prefers.

      Since the flight was not actually overbooked, but instead only fully booked, with the exact number of passengers as seats available, United Airlines had no legal right to force any passengers to give up their seats to prioritize others. What United did was give preference to their employees over people who had reserved confirmed seats, which would have been a violation of 14 CFR 250.2a (if the flight were overbooked, as United had originally claimed). Since Dr. Dao was already seated, it was clear that his seat had already been “reserved” and “confirmed” to accommodate him specifically.

      • Thank you for posting this

        The mainstream media has been lying about this in an apparent attempt to heighten audience outrage. Pretty much every air traveler has heard gate announcements of overbooking — the misleading headlines of this story pander to the resulting fear and anger.

        The other United story was similar. Media headlines suggested that two young women were arbitrarily denied travel because of their clothing. The actual facts were buried deep in the resulting stories — the women in question were dependents of United employees traveling for free under a company policy that included a dress code that explicitly prohibited the apparel worn by the two women.

        I’m not a fan of United. I am a fan of media accuracy, especially when the mainstream media is under such a relentless attack by an administration and political movement based on lies and dishonesty.

        I appreciate you highlighting the blatant lie of these headlines. This issue is NOT about overbooking, it is instead about flagrant corporate abuse of its customers.

  2. Incentives, not commands, work

    Pass “Open Skies” legislation. At present, the only airlines that can operate domestically are the disastrous carriers we have in the US. Give foreign airlines a fair shot to fly us around. United will do things like this until they have real competition. Break up the airline oligopoly, and this will change.

    sabutai   @   Sat 15 Apr 4:24 PM
    • Don't we have several choices?

      Also, to clarify, are you suggesting for example British Airways do Boston to Chicago rather than either of them to London?

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Mon 24 Apr 11:19 AM