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United Airlines: Coffee, tea or waterboarding?

After seeing the horrific videos of a man (who claimed to be a medical doctor) dragged, beaten and bloody from a United Airlines flight Sunday night because he refused to voluntarily give up his seat so that four employees of the airline could fly, I’m hoping that Trump saved a few cruise missiles for this despicable carrier. I mean for their empty aircraft, of course. You know I’m kidding. Right?

The shocking Smartphone videos shot by several frightened passengers have gone viral on the internet. United at first refused to comment (a sure sign of guilt in these days of corporate and governmental Baghdad Bobs who can and will say anything in defense of the indefensible), instead referring all questioners to the Chicago airport police, who themselves refused to comment.

On Monday, the CEO of United, Oscar Munoz, issued an apology of sorts, saying, among other things, “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.” Now there’s a neologism of chilling implications. “Pardon me, while I re-accommodate some inconvenient cockroaches with a little Black Flag.”  “The U.S. Navy Friday re-accommodated a few dozen Syrian military personnel.”  Or “Join Al Qaeda! Travel the world! Meet new friends and re-accommodate them.”

In short, the story is this. The airline, as airlines are wont to do, asked for “volunteers” from among a fully-seated aircraft. When nobody took them up on their offer to pay $900 per seat per passenger, the airline conducted a random lottery and one of those who “won” refused to take the money and refused to give up his seat.

The airline could have continued to up the ante until they reached a price that someone would take. Instead, United, in a move that will undoubtedly earn the management official who made the decision the “You’re so fired!”  award for poor public relations skills, asked the Chicago airport police to drag the poor man off the plane.  There are some pretty awful photos of the poor battered fellow, hanging onto a curtain and mumbling over and over, “I have to go home,” and “just kill me.” As well as shots of blood-spattered airplane seats.

It appears that the victim was a doctor who needed to get home to treat some patients. Now that’s a doctor you want in your corner—one who is willing to be beaten half to death to make an appointment. When is the last time that’s happened?

I’m sure he’ll take that lesson to his grave—I mean the place where he will be re-accommodated.

An unintended consequence of the incident was that one passenger was so overcome by the sight of blood that he evacuated the airplane. I wonder if anyone on United slapped themselves on the forehead and said, “Good one! Now that’s something we should keep in mind for next time”?

Probably won’t be a next time as the word will get around that you better not mess with United because they will beat you senseless and toss you out on your ear if you don’t obey them without question. I wonder how long before they issue billy clubs to flight attendants?

Actually, I’m pretty certain that United has drawn the wrong lessons from this incident and some public relations genius has plans to issue new uniforms inspired by North Korean Prison Camp Guards and the flight attendants are already practicing the new mantra that they will repeat to passengers.

“When the airline is in flight, please return the trays to their upright positions, or you will be beaten with them.” “When the seatbelt light is on, you will fasten it, or we will strangle you with the belt.” And finally, “coffee, tea or waterboarding?”

Oh, and a dead giveaway. United Airlines will no longer offer flights. They will be called “Stalags.” You read it here first.

Yes, I know, companies reserve the right to serve whomever they want, but when is the last time you heard of a diner in the midst of eating a plateful of spaghetti in a restaurant told that he had to surrender the pasta because some employees of the restaurant were hungry? How about an employee at Walmart following a customer out to her car and confiscating a widescreen TV she just bought because the store management decided that a sales team member ought to be allowed to buy the item instead?

Can you say multi-million-dollar lawsuit for damages, pain and suffering? Not only for the gore-covered doctor, but for all of the poor passengers who were traumatized by witnessing what I think most people would agree was out of control police brutality.

Fly the friendly skies of United—unless they decide to beat you to a pulp!

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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