Target: U.S. President Donald Trump
Goal: Ban airlines from overbooking flights.
The recent United Airlines controversy has highlighted a much deeper, more systematic scandal: when it comes to airline tickets, travelers don’t always get what they pay for. Dr. David Dao learned that the hard way, when he was randomly selected for forcible removal from an overbooked United Airlines flight. All Dr. Dao wanted was to remain in the seat he had paid for; instead, his lawyer says he now may need facial reconstruction surgery, after being literally dragged off the flight.
The story might seen horrific enough, but there’s a deeper problem here. Airlines like United routinely overbook their flights, in hopes they can make some extra cash on seats purchased by no-show travelers. In most cases, this is purely a business decision, and relies on the assumption that some passengers won’t show up on time, thus allowing their seats to be sold twice. This practice might sound shady, but it’s entirely legal. As Derek Thompson at The Atlantic pointed out, “According to its contract of carriage, United can deny boarding on oversold flights if passengers don’t accept compensation.”
In other words, it’s perfectly legal for an airline to sell your seat to someone else, then throw you off the flight if you complain. You then have one of two options: either accept compensation that may or may not be equal to the value of your ticket, or go home and get facial reconstruction surgery.
This practice is somewhat unique to the airline industry. If you go to a ballgame, the venue can’t sell your seat to someone else, then throw you out. At the movies, you probably won’t be dragged down the aisle simply because the cinema decided it could turn a profit by selling your seat a second time. The same can be said for concerts, theme parks, buses, or pretty much anywhere else where you need to purchase a ticket for entry. Across the board, it simply isn’t standard practice to refuse service to a certain percentage of customers for no fault of their own.
Airlines shouldn’t get special leeway to engage in a business practice that involves randomly deny service to paying customers. If you agree, please sign our petition demanding the White House put a stop to the intentional overbooking of flights.
Dear President Donald Trump,
The nation is still shocked after seeing the treatment of Dr. David Dao on a United Airlines flight. Unfortunately, Dr. Dao’s case was just the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem: the systematic overbooking of flights by airlines looking to make a quick buck. Today, it’s perfectly legal for an airline to randomly deny service to paying customers, simply because the airline made the decision to sell their seat twice. Everyday in the U.S., innocent travelers are forced to adjust their travel plans to the whims of airlines that fail to provide the seats customers have already paid for. It could be a doctor who urgently needs to see his patients, or any one of us forced to take time off work, or cut holidays short, just so a massive company like United can make some extra pocket change.
This has to stop. We demand you take action to ban airlines from overbooking their flights. Airlines shouldn’t be allowed to re-sell the seat you’ve paid for. When was the last time a restaurant sold the same meal to two different people? Can a real estate agent sell the same home to two different families, and keep the money from both? Can a car dealer pull you out of a newly purchased vehicle, hand the keys to someone else, then offer you a few pennies or a coupon in compensation? If you complain, can they then break your nose? This practice is wrong, and should be banned. We therefore urge the White House to endorse calls for a total ban on flight overbooking. There’s simply no excuse.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: iphotocommerce