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

It was the incident that made United the byword for awful.

As well as for insensitive, incompetent, myopic, and inhumane.

A passenger, Dr. David Dao, had refused to be bumped off a flight from Chicago to Louisville. Not even for $800. So United's employees called in the heavies.

Astonishingly, the heavies were heavy-handed. They dragged him down the aisle of the plane.

Soon, Dao had a broken nose, a concussion, and lost two teeth.

And United had whole heaps of PR trouble, especially as its CEO Oscar Munoz first tried to blame Dao

The airline's public relations were instantly as putrid as a nectarine left in the sun for three weeks.

But what of those heavies? After all, the action happened on April 9. 

Well, Chicago's Inspector General just announced that two of the officers involved have been fired.

It turns out that, though their uniforms said "Police," they were actually Chicago Department of Aviation security officers.

You may not be surprised to hear that the officers were deemed to have "mishandled a nonthreatening situation that resulted in a physically violent and forceful removal of a passenger."

You might be a little surprised that the two officers weren't both fired for that mishandling.

One of them was, indeed, said to have "improperly escalated the incident."

The other, however -- a sergeant -- was fired for deliberately excising facts from the employee report.

Indeed, the Inspector General said that employees had made "misleading statements and deliberately removed material facts from their reports."

A third officer involved has resigned. A fourth was suspended.

The incident had several repercussions.

United declared it would raise the incentive for bumped passengers to a maximum of $10,000.

It also settled a case with Dao and promised that it would severely reduce the need for passengers to be bumped at all.

In the Dao case, he was being bumped for United's own employees, who were needed to crew another flight in the morning.

The whole thing has caused more than one airline to consider whether it might handle certain passenger situations differently.

But don't expect too much to change.

Why, recently Southwest called in heavies to remove a woman from a flight, after she allegedly claimed she was severely allergic to two dogs who were on the plane.

Of course, the main reason why incidents such as this become infamous is that a passenger pulled out their cellphone and took a video.

How bad was it before iPhones came along?

Published on: Oct 18, 2017
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