I wrote about the death of Carol Anne Gotbaum from the perspective of what the events leading to her tragic death must have looked like. Now, the Washington Post has published a column by a writer who was also deplorably treated by U.S. Airways as a result of their practice of overbooking flights which she discusses:
There’s every reason to believe that Gotbaum would be alive today if she had been allowed to board her flight to Tucson and take her rightful seat. While her tragedy has been a Page One story in many newspapers, few reports have focused on the fact that the airlines involved, US Airways and its subcontractor, Mesa Airlines, are notorious for overbooked flights. According to the New York Times, US Air had revenue last year of $11.56 billion. Of that, $1 billion was the result of diligent overbooking.
The stressful, often incendiary situations created by overbooking infuriate perfectly healthy, well-adjusted passengers. It’s not hard for me to imagine that an emotionally fragile, vulnerable person like Gotbaum could have felt absolutely desperate.
Gotbaum wasn’t late for boarding. She didn’t forfeit her place by ignoring the airline’s procedures. Her only mistake was showing up at the US Airways gate and believing that her paid-in-full, reserved-seat airline ticket meant that she would actually have a seat on the plane.
We made the same mistake.
The writer goes on to discuss her ordeal and rude, brusque treatment by ticket agents. A fish rots from the head and it is unsurprising that staff would behave in this manner given the predicament overbooking puts them in with regard to irate passengers who have reserved and paid for their tickets:
Other staffers told us that many US Air/Mesa personnel were dispirited and overworked, which often led them to vent their frustration on passengers, in a sort of “kick the dog” syndrome, especially in Phoenix. One flight attendant said she had once seen five people arrive a few minutes late at the Phoenix counter and be denied the right to board even though the flight attendants and pilot were willing to allow them on. In this rare case, the plane was not overbooked, and the passengers’ seats were available. Still, the counter staff wouldn’t let them board.
Meanwhile, as Instupundit notes, our ruling class, finds ways to exempt itself from such inconvienences.