Flying the unfriendly skies

Published 9:40 am Monday, April 24, 2017

by Rick Jensen

The airline industry is so competitive that upon learning United Airlines dragged a paying passenger off a flight so their employees could enjoy a free ride, Delta played hide-and-seek with the body of a man on the way to his own funeral.

We live in an era of air travel where paying customers are regarded as some sort of annoyance worthy of abuse rather than, well, customers worthy of some minimally healthy appreciation.

It matters little to some airport security that children are watching while they drag a passenger from his seat, bloody him up and then stand by while he re-enters the plane, staggering from one end to the other, obviously in shock, muttering that he has to go home. 

Another video shows him clinging to a doorway in the plane, pleading with security and police, “Just kill me.”

The video shows the police simply watching him. I hope I’m not giving the police too much credit in presuming they were waiting for him to calm down, which is much better than hog-tying him to a gurney, taping his mouth shut and wheeling him off.

Better, but not much.

Who knew that United has a “fine print” policy in which they reserve the right to have airport security violently drag you off their planes to make room for employees flying to work in another city?

If you’re ever asked, “Would you be willing to take $400 in air travel and a hotel so one of our four employees can get to Louisville?” say, “Yes, please,” unless you’re willing to take a beating.

Which brings up another fact about United’s poor business model of bouncing paying customers around in favor of employees needing a lift.

The man they dragged across the seats and floor is reportedly a doctor who said he could not stay in Chicago overnight because he had appointments with patients the next day.

This sounds like a reasonable justification to go back to the computer and have it select another random seat for ejection.

But, no, they chose the much more expensive option.

It may cost United a couple thousand dollars to book employee flights on another airline. Instead, they chose option number two — pay out at least a couple million in a civil suit they are sure to lose.

If the doctor’s lawyer can get a jury trial, United and O’Hare might be buying him a multi-million dollar private jet and pilot.

And Delta? 

31 year-old Bryant Lee Raburn, who died from leukemia, was supposed to be flown to Nashville from Raleigh for his funeral.

Instead, Delta escorted the body on the scenic route to Utah. And dropped him there.

WRAL TV reports:

“Bryant was rerouted to Salt Lake City in a cargo hold, and we didn’t know how to get him to Nashville,” said David Rhodes, Bryant’s stepfather.”

“According to Rhodes, hours spent on the phone with Delta got him nowhere. ‘I was stonewalled everywhere I called,’ he said.”

“Finally, Rhodes traveled to the Nashville airport himself to work with operating managers to find a new flight that would get his stepson’s body to Tennessee in time for the funeral.”

In August, 2014, 22 travelers from Delaware flew from Philadelphia to New York on their way to Dublin. What they didn’t know was that the ticketing agent in Philly booked them on a ghost ship to Dublin.

The flight didn’t exist.

So there they were, stranded in New York.

Fourteen of them grew weary of Delta’s failure to get them on a flight to Dublin and took cabs and limos back to Delaware. The remaining eight fought for over five hours with agents and a Delta VP to get flights on other airlines.

Here’s what we’ve learned from these airlines:

United’s slogan: “Fly United. We dare you. Punk.’”

Delta’s slogan: “Delta gets you there. We’ll decide where “there” is. You got a problem wit dat?”

RICK JENSEN is Delaware’s award-winning conservative talk show host on WDEL, streaming live on from 1 to 4 p.m. EST. Contact Rick at, or follow him on Twitter @Jensen1150WDEL.