I wrote earlier about a doctor who was dragged off a United Express flight (operated by Republic Airlines) last night when the airline needed to transport crew instead of four passengers. He needed to get to work at a hospital the next day. United, though, needed crew in place in Louisville.
United didn’t just decide crew were more important than passengers, they needed those crewmembers in place in order to work a flight in the morning.
- The gate announced the overbooking of one passenger and offered $400 a hotel night plus rebooking on the 3 p.m. Monday flight.
- Boarding commenced. Upon completion, they announced they needed 4 passengers to give up their seats and that the plane wouldn’t leave until the 4 crewmembers were accommodated on the flight.
- The bump offer was increased to $800 but there were no takers.
The crew needed to make it to Louisville that night, and they’d have to meet federal rules for minimum rest before operating a flight the next day.
United Express Embraer Regional Jet
So United involuntarily denied boarding to four passengers. The first couple got off without incident. The doctor, traveling with his wife, refused to leave. That’s when three officers boarded the plane and removed him. He was injured in the altercation as he was literally dragged off the aircraft.
So what happens when you’re involuntarily denied boarding? When you have a ticket and reservation for a flight but the airline doesn’t give you let you fly on a flight which otherwise operates, and they don’t get volunteers, under 14 CFR 250.5 they’re required to pay:
- Nothing if you are offered transportation to your first connecting city (or final destination in the event of a non-stop) scheduled for within an hour of your original booking.
- Double your fare up to $675 if you’re rescheduled to arrive within 1-2 hours of original time.
- Four times your fare up to $1350 if you aren’t given transportation scheduled to arrive at either your first connection or final destination within 2 hours of schedule.
Under the law the Department of Transportation will review these maximum amounts again this year.
However here’s what happened after the man was removed from the flight:
The man was able to get back on the plane after initially being taken off – his face was bloody and he seemed disoriented, Bridges said, and he ran to the back of the plane. Passengers asked to get off the plane as a medical crew came on to deal with the passenger, she said, and passengers were then told to go back to the gate so that officials could “tidy up” the plane before taking off.
The 1 hour 19 minute flight wound up delayed 2 hours.
Update: While this was a 70 seat aircraft, so the rules above applied, it’s worth noting that there are exceptions to the airline owing the compensation described above:
- If the airline substitutes a smaller plane than what was originally scheduled
- For 30-60 seat aircraft, if the bump is the result of weight or balance issues limiting the number of people that can fly.