Does the United Airlines have right to beat and remove already-boarded passengers?

16/04/2017
United Airlines


On April 10, 2017 United Airlines overstepped its authority by taking David Dao off Flight 3411 unwillingly
Dao had boarded the airplane, but then United selected him to lose his seat when the airline wanted to put four flight crew members on the flight from Chicago to Louisville, Ky. Dao refused to leave.
Video widely shared on the Internet appeared to show Dao being pulled from his seat by Chicago Department of Aviation police, his face bloodied in the process. His family later announced he had suffered a concussion, a broken nose and lost his two front teeth. The officers involved have been put on leave, and United has struggled to contain the publicity disaster.
"By dislodging this passenger against his will, United violated its contractual obligation," legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said the next day. "He paid for the ticket, he bought the ticket, he passed the TSA, he was in his seat, he has every right to stay there."
Airline travel already is fraught with hassle and inconvenience, as most of us know, but this incident has tested legal boundaries for how passengers can and should be treated. Is Napolitano right that a ticketed passenger who has passed security and boarded the airplane has "every right" to stay in his seat?
Contract of carriage
Timothy Ravich, an aviation law professor at the University of Central Florida, told that in the US passenger rights are still limited by laws, regulations and policies. Airlines have the authority to decide whether passengers are breaking the rules, and can remove people at a company's discretion, even against a passenger's will.
"The suggestion that Dr. Dao had ironclad rights merely by buying a ticket, passing through TSA security, and being in his seat is incorrect," Ravich said.
In this case, Dao was also subject to United’s contract of carriage, essentially a set of guidelines by which a passenger agrees to abide in exchange for the flight. Ravich pointed out that Rule 21 of United’s contract give about 27 reasons why the airline "shall have the right to refuse to transport or shall have the right to remove from the aircraft at any point, any passenger."
Some of these reasons include a woman being nine months pregnant, or someone being too sick or too drunk to fly, or even if they are "barefoot or not properly clothed."
Ravich noted, as an example, that Rule 21 also said "passengers who fail to comply with or interfere with the duties of the members of the flight crew, federal regulations, or security directives" are subject to removal as a safety measure.
One theoretical argument in this instance could be that Dao was told to leave to help United get a flight crew to Louisville. Dao broke the rule when he refused and was therefore removed.
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University aviation law professor Stephen Dedmon agreed that United can remove passengers from planes for many reasons. He also said the specifics of Dao’s case can currently be debated but not resolved without knowing all the specifics or legal interpretations.
"It would take a court ruling to decide UA’s provisions were appropriate and properly applied," Dedmon said.
Our ruling
Napolitano said a United Airlines passenger forcibly removed from an airplane had "every right" to stay in his seat.
Napolitano's blanket assertion is incorrect.
The airlines, including United, outline dozens of reasons why they might remove a passenger after he has already boarded.
Whether the airline adhered to or executed these provisions properly is a different matter, and would have to be decided in court.
Either way, in the US, you can still lose your seat once you get on the plane. If you reject, you will be beaten like Mr. David Dao.
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All comments [ 10 ]


Love Peace 16/4/17 20:36

UA has no right to remove Mr. Dao from the plane, it's illegal!

John Smith 16/4/17 20:41

Does this case show the democracy of the US? LOL

Deck Hero14 16/4/17 20:43

I think United is likely to be found on legally solid ground, but has already lost in the court of public opinion, and will pay dearly for it

Jane smartnic 16/4/17 20:45

Dao was beaten senseless, his nose was broken, teeth were knocked out, and he suffered a concussion

Pack Cassiopian 16/4/17 20:46

If the flight was not overbooked, United Airlines had no legal right to give his seat to another passenger

yobro yobro 16/4/17 20:49

Make it right for the passenger!

MaskOf Zero 16/4/17 20:50

it is wrong for the airline to kick Dao off the flight.

Only Solidar 16/4/17 20:53

United customer service is a joke that doesn't respect the passenger.

LawrenceSamuels 16/4/17 20:58

the UA should change its policies of taking off the passenger when they already being boarded!

Gentle Moon 16/4/17 21:01

In Vietnam the passengers of Vietnam Airlines are always served as God, never be taken off and beaten by the airlines!

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