Who can forget the images of that 69-year-old Kentucky doctor -- David Dao -- who was knocked out, then dragged off a United Airlines plane when he refused to give up his seat on the overbooked flight from Chicago O'Hare to Louisville, Kentucky? I know I can't. It's every flyer's nightmare. I've been on a lot of overbooked flights over the years, but I never imagined I might be forcibly dragged off the plane so that someone else could take my seat. In one remarkable act of poor customer service, United Airlines proved that it could indeed happen to anyone.
Despite all the bad press that United rightfully received after the incident, the airline just got some good news from the FAA. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has decided not to punish United Airlines for its bad treatment of Dao.
In a two-page letter to United, the FAA is reported to have said,
We generally pursue enforcement action when a carrier exhibits a pattern or practice of noncompliance with the department's consumer protection regulations and federal anti-discrimination statutes that we enforce. Therefore, we conclude that enforcement action is not warranted in this matter.
In addition, according to the Los Angeles Times report, the letter states that the FAA found no evidence that Dao was removed from the plane due to his race, national origin, gender, or religion.
Previous reports say that United Airlines reached a confidential settlement with Dao to the tune of $140 million for the injuries he suffered, including a broken nose, a concussion, and broken teeth.
So, all's well that ends well, right? Perhaps, but something tells me that this is not the last time that an airline is going to step over the line in a big way.
Here's a video of the incident, though I know I'll never forget it.