Everyone is horrified by how United Airlines has treated a paying passenger it decided to kick off a plane after he had boarded. One minor but chilling aspect of the horror? How United’s own comments abuse what language actually means to try and justify its shitty behaviour.
The two standout examples of United spin:
- The tweet from United suggests that it had to “re-accommodate” customers. That is not what the phrase means.
- The letter sent to staff talks about how United “denied boarding” for the passenger. As the video makes clear, he had already boarded and been assigned a seat, before some late-running crew were given priority. To suggest this equals “denying boarding” is Orwellian in its warping of reality.
No, this doesn’t suck as much as an already crappy US airline deciding to use government-funded forces to make a passenger bleed as it drags him off the plane because it’s too cheap to organise proper staff rosters. But it underscores why no sane person would ever fly with United again. Your ticket literally isn’t worth the paper it’s (possibly) printed on.
Update: the sequel apology was equally crap, including the phrase “No-one should ever be mistreated this way.” Mistreated in any other way would be OK then, right?
Update: I ended up writing a longer version of this for Lifehacker.