United flight number between Burlington and Washington found itself to
be overloaded, and needed to unload 20 passengers (that's a really
strange amount of overloading on a regional jet that only carries about
So United found itself faced with the issue
of who to offload and who to leave on the plane. An attempt to
call for volunteers did not get enough people agreeing to be bumped.
So the airline, which could of course choose any of various different
selection criteria, decided to offload people based on criteria it then
publically announced – people who paid the lowest fare would be
offloaded first, people who paid the highest fares would get to stay on
While it is unfortunate that anyone had to
be denied travel, was this not the fairest and most commercially prudent
way to choose who flies and who remains? And wasn't it a fair and
transparent process to tell everyone who was being selected and why?
One of the passengers started complaining
about this on Twitter. So what did United do? Did it simply
respond that any method of selection was going to result in 20 unhappy
passengers, and this was what they believed to be fairest? Oh no.
They apologized and tweeted back 'this shouldn't have happened'.
Question to United Airlines : How will
you select passengers next time? Alphabetically? By weight?
By gender? By age? By coin toss?
Lastly, what do you think to be the fairest
method of denying boarding to passengers who are already
booked/confirmed on a flight?