Was #BumpGate Over Covered in the Blogosphere?

Everyone is talking about #BumpGate, where United Airlines involuntarily denied boarding to a medical professional after he had already boarded, resulting in the Chicago Aviation Police physically removing him. 

You can see the offending activity right here:

That video that I shared above, in 14 hours had 65,000 views.

Was #BumpGate Over Covered in the Blogosphere?

From a quick look at the BoardingArea landing page, there are a total of 45 links to posts. Of those 45, there are 17 posts on the topic. That’s to say that roughly 38% of posts cover United’s #BumpGate. Is that a lot? I’m not sure, it seems like a lot. 

I realize that I’m definitely missing some, probably more than a handful. For example, View from the Wing has 5 posts, One Mile at a Time has 4 posts on the topic. As a percentage of posts written today, that’s a pretty high percentage for both, but, perhaps not as crazy as back when it was breaking news that the Chase Ink Plus sign up bonus was bumped from 50k to 60k Ultimate Rewards Points. That one had 7 posts by a single blogger, So maybe 5 posts in a single day is pretty high.

My Thoughts

This is a huge issue for United. The second of which in 2 weeks. I shared my thoughts of #LeggingGate as part of a weekly, because I didn’t think it was that big a deal. It was bigger only because of social media and someone that had only parts of the story. I would offer that #BumpGate is a lot more serious for a number of reasons:

  • Violence should always be a last resort
  • While United was technically in the right based on their Contracts of Carriage, there is such a thing as going too far
  • At some point, the passenger could’ve seen the writing on the wall. Its not his fault, but he could have also said “ok, I’ve tried to stay, if I’m going to go, I can do it on my own two feet.” Of course, to that point, it wouldn’t surprise me if everyone onboard, including the passenger, didn’t think it would actually happen. I know I wouldn’t have believed it, if I hadn’t seen it in the video
  • So far as I understand it, the gate staff knew that they were overbooked, yet the still boarded the plane. It all could have ended before it started, had the gate agent merely not let those individuals that would have been involuntarily denied boarding onboard.

Ultimately, it is a shame for us to see something like that video above, happening anywhere, let alone in the US. I mean, it was only a couple of years ago that United had a “self upgrader” removed from a plane in Shanghai. It is just unfortunate to see anywhere.

While Social Media and the blogosphere have the duty to report on these things, there’s a certain point, where it seems to get out of hand. Many on twitter have commented how everyone is an expert on the Contract of Carriage today. Everyone is an armchair quarterback, myself included. Could things have been done better? Yes. Should United change is policy? Maybe, or maybe they should just figure out a better way to enforce it–like not boarding before choosing.

Either way, the situation was regrettable, unacceptable, and does not help in the way that the world sees United.

What do you think?


9 thoughts on “Was #BumpGate Over Covered in the Blogosphere?

  1. At the point where he was bleeding, his glasses were askew and seemed to be unconscious, yeah, no, he couldn’t do it on his own two feet.

    And, as it looked as though he was assaulted before being taken from his seat? My guess is that this will not only be a PR nightmare for United, but a VERY costly one, as well.

    And, as well it should be.

    The fact that St Louis is only a 5 hour drive from Chicago makes this violence all the more disgusting. Customers keep the company afloat. You don’t attack them in favor of your employees.

  2. My understanding is that these were last minute deadheading crew that were needed in SDF to cover another flight. Had they not gotten on that flight it would have delayed and/or canceled connecting flights and inconvenienced hundreds if not thousands of other people across the system.
    It is also my understanding that the flight was completely boarded before gate agents were made aware of this last minute crew.
    This man was given every opportunity to come off the aircraft calmly and of his own volition. Instead he screamed and yelled and then once off the plane he reentered a secure area and got back on the plane saying “just kill me, just kill me”. This man did not appear rational and his actions and refusal to comply with flight crew and police instructions are what caused this incident.

    • United would have selected other passengers than a doctor, patients appointments are scheduled ahead of time, to cancel patient appointments because your flight is oversold is B.S, I wonder what would u tell to the doctor if u took off from work to transport your parent or child to medical appointment and found your doctor is not Present

      • So you are suggesting that the airline should choose people to be bumped in order of their “importance” rather than by the last person to have checked in for the flight? Wow.
        So, should each person have to submit their profession and their life circumstances when purchasing their ticket? Maybe write an essay pleading their case for having to be at their destination at a certain time?
        People are bumped in reverse order based on their check-in time. This doctor (who by the way according to news sources, practices one day/week and only under strict supervision after losing his medical license and being deemed not fit to practice medicine) was no less or more important than anyone else on that aircraft. He flipped out, refused to comply with instructions and caused a scene which is what forced the authorities to have to intervene. He has no one to blame but himself.

  3. @laurence. Go get educated first. Airlines bump people ALL the time based on “importance” of various factors. They try to take 2 single people together off the plane vs a family or vs 2 single people not traveling together. They try to not impact the elderly or younger kids. The fact that the physician works 1 day a week or is under supervision was not know. At the time and is completely irrelevant. I am a trauma surgeon. If my hospital finds out 12 hours before that I won’t be available, our trauma center would go on diversion. Yes this can have serious impacts. People may lose their life. Ahh I bet you didn’t think about that. The problem here is that United conceded to escalate this problem w force rather than increasing the compensation. If they raised it to $1200-1500 I am sure that more people would have volunteered. You are arguing the wrong thing which speaks to your lack of understanding of this incident and how it could have been rectified diplomatically.

    • Yes you are right – they will not pull off a child or an unaccompanied minor. They will also not pull off an entire family of 5 when they only need two seats. There are certain criteria that will make a passenger less likely to be pulled. Their profession however, thankfully, is not one of them. To suggest that you (or anyone) should be more entitled to a seat because you are a doctor (or self important in some other way), over someone perhaps trying to get to a funeral or a wedding or home to their children after a long week away, is both ignorant and arrogant.
      The fact that the airline did not know of this man’s questionable past is even more proof that the process of pulling passengers in an oversell situation is blind. If any of the people who were screaming and recording this situation felt their seat was less important than this man’s, they could have easily volunteered to take his place, take the offered compensation and take a flight the following day. They did not.
      My suggestion to you if you feel your job is so important and critical to the life and death of others, then perhaps taking the last flight of the day back home when you need to be saving lives first thing the next morning, is questionable judgement to say the least.
      Flights are cancelled for all kinds of reasons (technological, maintenance, operational, availability of crew, weather, air traffic control…). People are pulled for all kinds of reasons – weight restrictions and oversells to just name two. Are you aware that if a seat belt, tray table latch or seat hinge becomes inoperative, no one can sit in that seat? And if that seat is the aisle seat, often no one can sit in that entire row? On a full flight those factors will result in people being removed also.
      Again if this guy’s need to be at work “saving lives” was so critical then perhaps he shouldn’t have gambled on being one of the very last people to check in for the last flight of the day.

      And as a side note – after reading about this man’s criminal past, questionable and unethical medical practices, and outrageously poor decision making, along with witnessing his psychotic behavior on the aircraft – my personal opinion is that any patients whose appointments had to be cancelled should consider themselves lucky.

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