A world traveler never even thought about being ejected from a plane. But, that’s exactly what happened a man traveling on United Airlines Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville.
The man was brutally and forcibly removed from his flight over a “misunderstanding.” As a paying customer, the way he was treated was outright deplorable, reports NY Daily News.
According to one witness, he was already in his seat, seat belt snapped, seat reclined, ready for takeoff. All of a sudden two big, buff men in uniforms came to snatch him off the plane.
This man was shamed publicly as if he was a wanted fugitive. And, to top it off, it seems as if the man had done nothing wrong.
According to reports, it was all over an oversight made by United Airlines employees, as well as their greed, which often leads to overbooked flights.
I was returning from a glorious trip to South America. I normally take cabs to and from the airport, but since I was going to be gone for a full month, my uncle insisted I leave my car in his driveway and he would pick me up from the airport. I purchased my ticket online, as I always do but, for some reason, the company sent me paper tickets. I assumed it was because I was making numerous stops and did not think anything of it.
On the day of my departure, I awoke at 4 a.m. to ensure I made my early arrival time. I got to the airport in Quito and handed the woman behind the counter my tickets and passport. She took them, pressed a few buttons on the computer and I left. It was then I realized she forgot to return my passport and I quickly went back to retrieve it. In my hand were my boarding passes to Miami and New York. My flight was set. Or so I thought.
I made it to Miami where I had to run through an endless labyrinth to retrieve my luggage. I grabbed my large duffel bag and proceeded to bring it to Customs. It went through and then I reached my ticket window.
Out of breath from the long walk to find the gate, I handed the person at the ticket counter my boarding pass and passport. That is where it turned sour.
“Where’s your ticket?” the man in the blue uniform asked.
“Um, I don’t know. But here is my boarding pass,” I said nervously.
“Well, you can’t board the plane without a ticket.”
Here’s where I froze. This was 2000 and something. We were in the age of the internet. No one used paper tickets anymore. I had a boarding pass.
I found myself sounding like Elaine in a scene from “Seinfeld.”
“Isn’t the point of a boarding pass to board an airplane?” I asked sarcastically.
I boarded the plane. Placed my backpack in the overhead compartment and began to enjoy my Caesar salad. I would be home early, I thought.
That’s when it happened. Two large men, similar to the ones who uprooted the gentleman on his United Airlines flight on Sunday, came over to my seat.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry but you’ll have to leave the plane.”
“We have orders to remove you from the plane,” they said coldly.
I was stunned. I made it through Third World countries without a scratch. Now on American soil, with my bags already en route to New York I was forced off the plane. I began to scream.
“No, you can’t take me off, I didn’t do anything wrong!”
They started to grab my arm, when I knew there was nothing I could do.
They took me off the plane. I was still screaming and felt horrified. The passengers must have thought I was a drug mule, I thought.
When I got off, I went back to the ticket counter and insisted that I get on that plane. The one I paid for. The one my uncle was waiting for me to be on. I tore open my backpack and rummaged through all my folders. I no longer had the original ticket. It was somewhere on a counter in Ecuador, taken from the woman behind the counter. I was in Miami, so close to home, yet totally far away.
After an argument where I raised my voice to a decibel I could not imagine, they told me I could buy a new ticket that would cost over a thousand dollars. I refused.
I spent the next few hours trying to get my original ticket back. Eventually, I proved my innocence and, four hours later, was placed on a smaller, less comfortable plane to New York. There, I was met by a frustrated uncle and, of course, no luggage. It, too, must have been detained.
I will never forget the horrible way I was treated by an airline and how demeaned they made me feel for their oversight. I was so sorry to learn about the doctor who was mistreated on his way to help his patients. Airlines need to figure out a way to treat their customers with respect and dignity or soon no one will be flying. I still travel regularly but, if possible, I never have a layover in Miami.