The incident of a passenger being dragged off a United flight by police has unsurprisingly turned into a public-relations disaster for the airline. What I find especially troubling, however, is how multiple United employees and police officers concluded that their chosen actions were acceptable.
One would think these are educated professionals in positions that require wise decisions and effective human interaction skills. Yet, not one stepped up and suggested that dragging an innocent passenger off a plane in plain view of dozens of video recording witnesses might be a bad idea.
The only explanation I can conceive is the airline employees and police are so accustomed to treating people as inferior objects that they’ve lost all semblance of compassion and common sense.
Jason Gabbert, Plymouth
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That’s the ticket. Just go ahead and completely disobey authority — the Chicago airport police officers, who politely ask you to do something several times, but you don’t. Now, all hell breaks loose, you start screaming, making sure that you have your fellow passengers’ attention. Now, the gadgets appear and the recording begins.
Now, you watch the money start to roll in. A nice cash settlement from United Airlines. And buckets of free, worldwide first-class tickets for you and your family to enjoy.
Now, watch the fame start to roll in, you become a worldwide social-media hero. Now come the talk shows, the evening news appearances, the upcoming book and movie deals. Now, watch your voice mail and e-mail inboxes fill up, with lawyers crawling out of the woodwork to try to do business with you.
Now usually, when a cop tells you to do something, and you don’t do it, bad things can happen. But, maybe not for the passenger on United Express Flight 3411. Why am I not surprised?
Neil F. Anderson, Richfield
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In the wake of the recent violent and bloody “re-accomodation” of a 69-year-old Asian man by United Airlines, we are learning interesting facts. For instance, the “random” means of choosing “volunteers” to be forced off overbooked flights are not so random. In reality, they are often selected by the criteria of who boarded last, or who paid the lowest ticket-price. (No more cheap tickets for me!)
Perhaps the elderly Asian man should have obeyed the rules and left his seat. But I wonder how many other times in our less-than-colorblind society he may also have been re-accomodated?
On that day, after he’d been given a boarding pass and allowed to board the flight, I picture him stowing his carry-on, settling into his seat and looking forward to home. Traveling can be grueling for anyone, but particularly so for those with infants and children, or those with disabilities, or the elderly. Suddenly he was commanded to get out of his seat. When this happened, perhaps another exhausted American of color came to his mind, and like her he was tired of being told to move. And so, like Rosa Parks, he didn’t.
Renee Zitzloff, Minnetonka
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We have all viewed just about enough of Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville. Seeing several security officers from the Chicago Department of Aviation forcibly removing a seated coach passenger — the wrestling around and his bloodied face after apparently being knocked unconscious and being dragged down the aisle to the door — is not only sickening but disgusting.
The big issue is the result of overbooking by the airline, an apparently habitual action followed by many airlines. It ensures a full aircraft, the cost of which is not always born by the airlines but, as, in this case, passed on to a passenger who had paid for his ticket and was seated in his assigned seat.
Having security come aboard at the request of the airline to remove one passenger who was randomly selected to relinquish his seat for an airline employee who was seeking transportation to Louisville put law enforcement in a bad light. Police officers have had enough garbage to deal with lately by the public and media, and now this just adds fuel to the fire.
The airlines proclaim they have the authority to remove passengers when they overbook the airplane. Perhaps that law needs to be changed or eliminated to put the total responsibility for such action right smack where it belongs, in the hands of the airline doing the overbooking. Let them iron it out and not end up calling police to do their dirty work.
William Lundquist, Bloomington
ROAD SALT CONSEQUENCES
Oh, how we hoped for the best
Thank you for the front-page story “Road salt is pickling lakes” (April 11). Finally. I am a lifelong resident of the Twin Cities, and have wondered how we could continue to poison our lakes and streams, etc., and pretend we didn’t know where all this “salt” was going — like the fellow who changes his car oil, then pours it down a street drain. I don’t pretend to know what the solution is — maybe slower, more sensible driving — but trading a temporary problem for a permanent one is not viable policy. Another example of “instant gratification” in policymaking, driven by consumer demand. How about some wide application of “personal responsibility” by all of us in respect to what we think we need? Did the collective “we” really not know where it was going? Let’s take a responsible approach to preserving our wonderful quality of life here, and everywhere else, for that matter!
Keith Poets, Burnsville
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Ah, Star Tribune, thanks for your good headlines! Now we are “pickling” our precious lakes! That word, way above yesterday’s fold, grabbed me by my pajama lapels, and I read with alarm the article below it. I have long enjoyed the work of your headline writers, and thought of sending special thanks for their frequent wit and charm. Keep it up; I’m watching.
Alvhild M. Slen Sherve, Northfield
MEALS ON WHEELS
This program is imperiled, yet missiles are abundant
The April 6 front-page wake-up story on proposed federal cuts to Meals on Wheels in Minnesota was well-timed. The loss of $9.8 million per year from Washington is hard to imagine, cutting lunch from 50,000 to 25,000 meals a year. Then again, one launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles could fund lunch for the next six years.
Paul Hager, Northfield
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To quell complaints about the proposed expansion of an already bloated budget for military contractors, while service programs like Meals on Wheels see their funding slashed, I propose a program that could take care of everyone. It is simple, really. The military possesses an excellent pinpoint targeting system. Why not incorporate it into food delivery to needy seniors? Call it Meals on Missiles. I’m certain Raytheon could program its cruise missiles to land a payload in qualifying seniors’ dining areas. Granted, the missiles cost $1.41 million each, but the upfront cost of the program would soon be justified, as the first meal deliveries would be the last. The long-term savings would be phenomenal. Insurance companies would climb on board as a fair proportion of their clients who are the most costly to service would disappear. Why, the eventual reduction in Medicare and Medicaid claims alone would support its implementation. Meals on Missiles is a program for our times. If cruise missiles can solve our troubles abroad, why not at home?
Terry Faust, Minneapolis