I have had the pleasure or misfortune of traveling via air "a lot" since my first plane flight at age 16. During my career with the Government, I traveled internationally for 17 years and have been to over 100 countries. This is in addition to extensive personal travel. This means I have flown on thousands of flight segments, boarded 50+ airlines, traversed 100+ airports, queued in hundreds of customs, immigration, and security lines, and have been pulled aside for "extreme vetting" more times than I would like to admit. (The man with the rubber glove was surprisingly gentle).
I have flown on the best and worst of airlines. Flying first-class, I have enjoyed vodka and caviar on Finnair flights to the now defunct USSR. I have sat in web seats in the back of a US military C-130, headed to undocumented jungle airfields, with the world’s largest candy bar as my in-flight meal. I have flown on planes with no seat belts or flight attendants. I have flown with a chicken on my lap and a goat across the aisle ( a subject for another article).
I have had to "race" other passengers on the tarmac to ensure I had a seat on a plane. I traveled on a plane that lost an engine, dropped 20K feet in a matter of minutes, and limped back to the backwater airport, clipping trees along the way on the approach to the runway. I have been on a plane damaged by the ground crew, in a country I was forbidden to be in, stranded as a lone American for 15 hours in a hostile airport, where I paid $10 for a can of Coca-Cola.
I am an experienced traveler, to say the least.
However, I have never seen a legally and lawfully ticketed passenger dragged off a plane against his will, beaten, bloodied and forced to abandon his paid seat for another airline employee.
Seems a bit "Gestapo-ish," doesn’t it?
I mostly traveled Pan Am and United. With each of the airlines, I had well over 750K miles each, just short of the elusive 1 million mile goal. Pan Am has been defunct for decades, United is still around, beating up passengers for not giving up their seats. Where is Rosa Parks when we need her?
Had the victim been one of the protected minority groups, a Muslim, someone with an alternate lifestyle, the outcome would have been different. But in this case, it was just a simple doctor, headed back to take care of his patients. For him, the illusion of "white privilege" is something left for pundits to debate.
I have long given up on air travel. I do it if I must. My preferred method of travel is the open highways. No blue, rubber glove TSA pat-down examinations, no seats far too small for my stocky build, no expensive refreshments, no crying babies, no weather delays, no engine failures, no chickens or goats, just a guy, his wife, Lana, a nice large Ford Excursion, and the open highways.
United seems to be doubling-down on "stupid." They are defending the policy, the actions, the beatings, and the outcome, irrespective of the obvious insanity of the event. While I am sure, buried deep within the ticket agreement in four-point type, they had the legal right to the action, somehow, I don’t think they will win the moral argument of whether or not they are justified in beating and bloodying a passenger for not surrendering his seat, for which he paid with his hard earned wages.
In the future, when my wife and I decide to spend a lovely weekend end or a full week at some vacation hideaway, we won’t be taking United. I will take my car with my special someone. In a nutshell, I’ll be driving Mrs. Lana.
Warner Workman is a retired senior level CIA technical intelligence officer. During his 27 year career, he traveled internationally for 17 years and has been to over 100 countries. He currently is a consultant within the Intelligence Community and owns and operates a small 2nd Amendment store. He is a published columnist and writer focused on history and current events. He is married to the love-of-his-life, Lana, of 30 years and they have four great children. He lives in a small, rural Virginia community, 60 miles outside Washington DC.