A video surfaced of security forcibly removing a passenger on an United Airlines overbooked flight. But it wasn’t just a massive public relations disaster for United — they also flunked basic economics 101.
After forcing a paying customer off a flight to make room for an employee, United Airlines is catching hell, and rightly so. But what’s really disturbing is that no one at United understood the most basic principle of free market economics.
The story goes like this. United overbooked a flight from Chicago to Louisville, Ky., on Sunday night. That’s hardly unusual. But in this case, United wanted to make room for four employees who needed to be in Louisville the next day, and the next flight to Louisville wasn’t until Monday afternoon.
According to news accounts, United offered passengers at the gate $400 and a hotel to give up their seats. But nobody took them up on it. After everyone had boarded the plane, United upped the offer to $800 for anyone willing to get off. Again, it got no takers.
So, the airline decided to do the “fair” thing and have a computer randomly pick four passengers, who were then told to get off the plane. When one refused, United called in cops. Another passenger recorded that man being yanked from his seat and dragged off the plane.
A high school student just learning about economics could explain what United did wrong.
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