United Airlines Threatened to Steal All the Miles from 71 Year Old Man After Shoving Him to the Ground

A 71 year old man is suing United after being showed to the ground by customer service employees.

He says he asked the employee “for a new boarding pass because the one he had was garbled” but that the agent replied, “Can’t you see we’re busy?” (though the agents weren’t helping other customers at the time). Mr. Tigne told the agent to “wipe that smile off his face” and the agent is said to have responded, “I’ll kick your…” and that’s when he shoved the man to the ground.

…The United agent was charged with a felony for the attack.

The incident happened in 2015, and despite video several readers were skeptical when I wrote about this earlier in the month simply because it’s now 2017 that we’re hearing about it.

It turns out the passenger sought to work things out with United at the time, but the airline told him if he sued he’d be banned from flying the airline and they’d take away all of his MileagePlus miles.

United “called [the man’s] lawyer last week to officially apologize to Mr. Tigner for what happened.” I’m not clear whether the call was to apologize for employees shoving him to the ground, or for threatening to ban him from the airline if he spoke up about it?

Nevertheless, be warned: if you take on United and there’s no video to release to the media, your MileagePlus account is in jeopardy.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The only reason such bullying authoritarian behavior is tolerated and the airline isn’t already out of business after the previous incidents is that about a third of the country are “low information” dumb-as-rocks rednecks who thrive on this kind of “strong leader” authoritarian bullying to the point they become it’s enforcers and trolls. This equally explains the Trump phenom including how obviously unhinged they are: that a bleeding sociopath is bootlicked by the dumbest third of the country.

    How dumb, you ask? They’ll allow their family’s health care to be taken away to “stick it to liberals.” These are the stupidest people on the planet, as already taught since Bush in most other modern nation’s schools, who are aghast that the US middle voted away their entire class!

  2. Gary, for Chrissake will you PLEASE start banning these clowns posting political stuff here?

    Either side of the aisle.

    You are damaging your brand by allowing this crap to continue.

  3. @toomanybooks. While you consider Greg’s comment is politics and therefore is not appropriate here, he may have a point.

    We all know how bad United, its agents, FA, even Union acts. Yet, people still fly United. They still making profit. While Greg assume its because of what he already wrote above, I simply think because nobody cares.

    Sure, Dao incident is a hype. But that’s it, nothing more. It doesn’t affect United market at all.

  4. @Greg. Or…this particular guy was just a bully and Trump voters don’t believe in big government and are willing to put up with his antics for the sake of stopping socialism.

  5. LOL Socialism. You don’t even know what it means, but voted to fork over everything to corporations and bought politicians resulting in corporate socialism. Meanwhile every other country gives everyone decent health care and pays half the price – not one single complaint from thousands I’ve met around the world, only fat stupid US rednecks trying to characterize country’s they’ve never been to.

  6. Republicans are taking away people’s health care but making it easy for them to buy guns. That’s how stupid they are.

    Connect the dots.

  7. Gary, I’d love to see you delete purely political comments when there is not a political topic in the post. There are plenty of political blogs where they can engage in these endless pissing contests they so love and which the rest of us grow tired of quickly.

    On your topic I’m glad the victim finally got his due. If only we could get real competition on the airline business to drive these companies out of business.

  8. There you go again posting a political statement against Trump. Isn’t the latest CNN incident enough?

    It’s apparent Greg still can not accept the results.

    This has ruined an otherwise great post Gary

  9. I agree with what the political posts here say but also agree that it would be nice to keep politics out of the conversation about travel. Unfortunately, you-know-who opens his big mouth daily to stir up trouble and it trickles down. Even to here.

  10. When did domestic US air travel turn into driving in Russia…with dash mounted cameras?

  11. Greg’s off topic string of non-sequiturs was hilarious. By some unknown leap of logic, United actions which have been going for years are due to Trump. Too funny. Then this clown segued into healthcare for no particular reason other than that Trump reminds him of health care. Then Trump and Republicans apparently enraged the emotional Greg and then he started yelling insults like “dumb” and “redneck”. No attention span. Classic ADD. Maybe a little bit of tourette syndrome.

    When I finally stopped laughing at Greg and his silly rant:

    I started thinking that there is a kernel of seriousness in the topic of health care from a traveling perspective. When I was in Bangkok, I met a lot of people that were there for medical tourism. They told me that Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok for example has positive reputation.

    @Gary Leff. I was wondering if you could do a commentary on medical tourism? Where are good places to go? Bangkok, Costa Rica, India, Mexico, and so on? What are resources for finding how safe medicine in these locations?

  12. I for one support free speech and appreciate all the comments here within reason
    Otherwise it will end up being more like Lucky’s Blog where I see increased censorship (though some comments should be deleted for certain posts depending)
    I applaud Gary for his overall restraint even after seeing some questionable posts

    Uniteds continued horrific business behavior caused by management doesn’t make employees happy or their customer’s
    Not empowering agents to go above and beyond is a mistake
    Closing a customer relations number is also unacceptable
    United will never be truly successful as profits are always more important than customers
    They always say after an incident that it doesn’t reflect who we are or our values
    IMHO its totally who they are as a company typically and they own it
    United was great up till 9-11 but unfortunately they never recovered sadly
    There are some great people that still work for the company but hostile management and the guilty parties profits first policy over all else led them down the slippery slope they are in today
    Their only chance is they are to big to fail

  13. “If only we could get real competition on the airline business to drive these companies out of business.”

    DaveS, how do you think that will happen in the country? Politics, that’s how. To assume that it’s a completely separate topic from the issues raised on this blog about this highly regulated field is simply naive.

  14. Every consumer protection offered for Americans since Richard Nixon has been from Democrats. Only Dems offer prosperity, the GOP continually offers economic and social ruin.

    Every single one of those protections have been opposed by the Repiglican party, whose tax giveaways to the rich redistributed almost all gains which should have gone to the middle class to the richest Americans. Presently they are trying to give away the entire health care system for the poor to the richest 10%.

    No other country in the world except dictatorships has ever even considered such tax and social policies that wiped out the US middle class. It was only possible because ignorant rednecks vote against their own economic interests in order to satisfy their morbidly obese prejudices.

    This is taught in every university in the world except those controlled by the far right. The US right is the farthest right on the planet, considered more dangerous than terrorists by even our allies.

  15. @MissMarirose, competition in the airline industry is a valid topic for discussion for a travel blog. The comments made by some here are quite unrelated to travel and just boilerplate partisan invective that belongs elsewhere.

    In the end it’s Gary’s blog and his decision what is helpful or harmful to it.

  16. @DWondermeant. The purpose of corporation (in this case United) is not making its customer or its employee happy. The purpose is making profit (money).

  17. Very interesting line of reasoning(?). Jumping from United’s various problems to socialism, Prez Trump, Dumbocrats force-fed health care system and God knows what else might be rattling around in this fellow’s head. I think we should all voice our political and social grievances on this blog. All in favor say, “I love communism”. I don’t want you to think I am just a dumb-ass redneck swilling beer, shooting up roadsigns and planning a revolution. I have traveled and lived in many countries under various political systems. Currently I am living in eastern Ukraine. I have also lived in civilized(?)european countries. Certainly many of these countries have enviable health care system, paid for by extortion rate taxes. Also, remember most of these progressive european countries are also nothing but postage stamp size, insignificant cultural entities. Imagine trying to get agreement with the entire of Europe about health care system….impossible.
    If you are by ideology a progrssive lberal or dumbocrat, you likely applaud any and all atempts to federalize anything and everything to provide a birth to death government program. We have lost sight of the prinicple of earning what you have. A large percentage of the population in America wants to live like parasites on society, not working but having others provide for,them. Societal parasites who earn nothing and deserve nothing.
    Now back to the topic of United Airlines, or any airlines. I have million miles of flying in wide variety of airlines, including United. I have never had or seen personally an incident like this. I have had the opposite experiences. I suppose it happens but hardly the norm. Why vilify an industry or business based on a few incidents? I think it is just the current thing to do…kind of like herd mentality or pack behavior. Followers and lemmings. Get a taste of blood and go on a feeding frenzy… Thank you national news media ..
    I say give United a break..

  18. Thanks to Gary for permitting people to express themselves in what is tantamount to the 21st Century’s “public square.”

    Rather than attack someone for doing what our Founding Fathers said was essential for the survival of our democracy, perhaps it would be more productive to consider his thought-provoking points.

    The essence of this story is thuggish authoritarianism manifested by United. The video couldn’t be more on point. Regardless of what one thinks of the political views of the left as expressed by Greg, it seems reasonable to see the societal interplay between politics and commerce. Things generally don’t occur in a vacuum.

    Finally, the vast majority of GOP Senators have tacitly expressed their support for McConnell’s vile “health care” bill…fact. The American Medical Association, well known league of commie sympathizers, stated that they opposed the legislation on the grounds that it would violate the Hippocratic Oath of “do no harm.” Is it fair to see a link between a US Senator supporting legislation that would literally cause people to die needless deaths and United employees allowing a thug to assault an elderly employee?

    Seems like something worth talking about. Thanks Greg…and Gary.

  19. I used to look forward to the insightful and often humorous comments on postings here. Now I have to sift through one political diatribe after another replete with invective, name calling and such. And none of it has anything to do with the topic at hand. I am all for free speech, but I am also for keeping things in context. Comments should be aligned with the post. If you want to post a political commentary, then find another place to vomit from your keyboard.

  20. Brother. The United Employee clearly is an idiot. He could be a Democrat, a Republican or maybe a journalist. I don’t know. I don’t care. I could not believe that the man just laid on the floor for so long. I guess that is a good Samaritan that was trying to render aid and no United employee did so. I think it is the culture of the airline. Trying to extrapolate something that happened two years ago when Obama was POTUS BTW, to the current political climate is not logical. Companies like microsoft and all the California ITs exist in the political climate so what the h— does that have to do with a moron employed by United two years ago who was charged with a felony ? Give it a rest people. You are overwrought.

  21. It is directly related to authoritarianism, an ignorant third forking over all control to “strong leader” and corporations because in their twisted minds being rich or a bully is who to follow. It even infected their religion which became prosperity Christianity and a platform for horrific bigotry, totally destroying the good name of Christianity in one generation to where young people won’t even consider it.

    Just because you’re too blind to see the authoritarian nexus and direct line from Trump to airline corporations autocratic behavior doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. You’re probably one of the jackboots or their worshippers.

  22. I would hate to see how they treat a pilot that fails in the simulator. And now they are worried about D0. They need to be focused on safety and not losing luggage. I mean, give the customers a reason to put up with this nonsense, or we are going to allegiant, frontier, even people express if they are flying. It may be time for shareholder groups to step up, and require United’s board of directors to provide more oversight and accountability. These types of actions can quickly and directly impact shareholder value.
    The fact that it has been in litigation means United thought they had a defense.
    I havent seen the video…is it as bad as described or did other commenter exagerate (not the first time)?

  23. @ Greg. Decaf Dude!
    BTW . . . the rest of the world comes to the US for serious medical conditions.

  24. @ Greg. Decaf Dude! BTW . . . the rest of the world comes to the US for serious medical conditions.””

    Another lie fat rednecks tell each other down to the Sam’s club.

    Nobody except billionaires come here for certain medical procedures.

    People go to other counties like E. Europe (!) for cheaper medical care, including cancer treatments.

    If you tell people in Canada that lie, they’ll laugh in your face and tell you “Nobody would come to the US for your crappy expensive medical care!”

    Remember it’s your GOP that won’t control costs of drugs, actually forbid it for all but the VA because they can’t privatize that although they try every trick in the book to do it.

    Don’t bring redneck hick lies to a blog that has smart modern people!

  25. That’s horrific that anyone would assault an elderly man and then just let him lie there. That man deserves the fullest penalty for that felony he’s charged with – and hopefully he was immediately fired as well. And how about the other employees? Why was no one attending to this poor man?

    Totally staying out of the politics – but I’ll add my plea for getting rid of the politics in the posts. And the over-the-top replies that aren’t even related to the OP.

  26. If Greg’s posts continue as they have been in the United vs Mr Tigne affair, we readers can always skim a few lines and if we’re not interested, ignore the rest of Greg’s screed, or diatribe, take your pick.

    He does have at least one thing right. Most people never look into what their rights are vis-a-vis the airport, the TSA, or the airline on which they’re booked. Yes, I know the print on our tickets is about 6 point, but since much of what’s there is boiler plate that’s repeated on all tickets, we don’t have to scrutinize every ticket like a $450/hr attorney should.

    International flights are governed by various conventions, and it doesn’t take that long to familiarize yourself with how the airlines are going to reimburse you for far less than you think you ought to get.

    I have little influence with Consumer’s Union and their publication Consumer’s Reports, but I shall suggest an article detailing the rights and responsibilties of passengers vis-a-vis TSA and the airlines on domestic and international flights. If other readers would request such an article, perhaps we may prevail.

    A word about me. I drive a VW Passat and have read the encyclopedic manual at least 4 times. I figure that if VW feel they need to give me that much information, I ought to know at least the basics and where to find the particulars on what I don’t consider basic.

    To my wife’s amusement, I’ve done the same with our domestic and international airline tickets, even going so far as enlarging certain parts to carry with us when we travel. And yes, we have the sales receipts, manuals, and warranty papers for our appliances. Computers make keeping such things rather easy.

    If you’ve read this far, let me wish you a happy, safe, and sane Fourth of July. Greg’s protestations notwithstanding, we Americans have a great deal to be thankful for and a holiday on which to remember with thanks how fortunate we are.

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