Here’s my take on it, 3.5 readers.
On the one hand, the idea that you can purchase a ticket to leave on a flight at a certain time and yet be moved off of that flight even though you have plans and you’re on a schedule totally sucks. If the airlines depend on seats to move their employees where they need to go, then they should keep a certain amount of seats open and eat the cost. If the distance isn’t even that far, say four hours or less, the company should rent a van for the employees to drive to the next location rather than bump paying passengers.
On the other hand, rightly or wrongly, this is a legal practice. I’m sure buried 10,000 lines down into the fine print on your ticket for any airline and not just United, that the company reserves the right to bump you off a flight. It sucks, but as long as it’s legal, people have to comply with it.
Yes, complain. Yes, raise a stink. However, once the cops get involved…leave. There’s a disturbing societal trend where people think they have a right to not comply with the police. Even the worst lawyer will tell you that if you think you’re being unjustly hassled, just shut up, do as the cops say, and then if you really have a case, sue later.
In this case, the guy should have walked away rather than be dragged away. Take the next flight, then sue for the cost of your missed work, any burdens you suffered, etc.
This is probably a learning lesson that the law should be changed and airlines shouldn’t be allowed to overbook and passengers should have a right to expect that a ticket on a plane at a certain time means they can to leave on a plane at a certain time. However, as long as this is the law, suck it up, leave, and then seek whatever legal action possible to reimburse whatever the delay cost you.
What say you, 3.5?