Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

We've become used to the occasional contretemps between airline staff and passengers.

There are many flights and many passengers. 

It can't all run smoothly and rarely does.

However, a video posted this week shows a long and unpleasant argument between American Airlines passengers and a gate agent at Miami airport.

The passengers insist they were on time for their flight, but the airline deliberately overbooked it -- something airlines insist they do very rarely these days.

"I paged your name and you were not here," explains the airline employee.

"We have been sitting here for three hours," insists one of the passengers.

"You are here. There is no more flight," explains the gate agent. 

"You missed your flight," he adds.

"You treat us like animals," one of the passengers complains, sure that the airline had overbooked the flight by 10 tickets.

I asked American for its view.

An airline spokesman told me: "The allegations made in the video are not accurate, as the flight was not oversold and not booked full. A few passengers arrived late for American flight 2722 on Feb. 21 from Miami to Boston. Our Miami team called their names at 9:38 p.m. ET without any answer, and the flight departed on-time, as scheduled, at 9:45 p.m. ET. These passengers were rebooked on a flight the next morning. As a reminder, passengers must be at the gate 10 minutes prior to departure in order to ensure an on-time departure."

I confess to having some sympathy with the passengers.

The airline claimed it had paged me. Simultaneously, however, it was sending me emails telling me that the flight wouldn't be departing for a long time, as I sat in a bar near the gate. (No none of heard the alleged paging.)

So I and a number of other passengers were left overnight to fend for ourselves. The airline staff offered us no help.

Airlines insist that passengers should always be at the gate in case of any changes. Which, given how little space there is at many gates, borders on the ludicrous.

The simple fact is, though, that airlines hold far too many of the cards and passengers hold few.

One, of course, is making videos, posting them and hoping for sympathy. 

Published on: Mar 1, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.