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United Won't Be Fined for Dragging Passenger Off Plane

Maybe the negative publicity was punishment enough. Reuters says that United Airlines will not be fined for hauling an unruly drama seeker off of an airplane.

The U.S. government told United Continental Holdings Inc (UAL.N) it would not face fines after a 69-year-old man was dragged from a flight in April, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, a decision that was criticized by a passenger rights groups.

The Transportation Department notified United of its decision in a May 12 letter made public on Wednesday by passenger advocacy group Flyers Rights. A government official confirmed the authenticity of the letter, which said United did not comply with all aspects of the government’s rules on overselling seats.

In April, video went viral on social media of David Dao being dragged from a United aircraft at Chicago’s O‘Hare International Airport after he refused to give up his seat to make room for a crew member.

United said in a statement on Wednesday “this incident should never have happened and we are implementing all of the improvements we announced in April, which put the customer at the center of everything we do.”

The optics were all wrong for United on this, and they are apologizing all around, but they weren't entirely at fault here.

I have been traveling for work for almost thirty years now, and have managed to not have any run-ins with airline personnel. That's not because I am a saint, it's just that I don't find most of them difficult to deal with.

The gentleman in question here got dragged off the plane because he wanted to get dragged off the plane. He knew he was pleading a lost cause, and he wanted to maximize the drama. He could have squeezed them for some freebies, but he wanted to go viral.

This is not to say that the airlines are always blameless, but many of the people I know who have problems while traveling keep having problems. At some point you have to look at all the common denominators.