Students must rethink booking United Airlines

A recent incident, involving United Airlines on Sunday, calls into question which airlines deserve our business for the many Tulane students who regularly rely on airlines to travel. David Dao, a doctor who was determined to stay on a flight he paid for and needed to get to work on time, was forcibly dragged off an overbooked plane, sparking outrage. Fellow passengers watched horrified as he screamed and bled while pulled down the aisle by police.

We must recognize this as the disturbing event it was, hold people accountable for their actions and think about large companies’ questionable actions before supporting them.

Though Dao and his wife originally volunteered to leave the plane, he then said it would not be possible upon hearing that the next flight would not get him to his patients on time. Instead of acknowledging that Dao wanted to help but needed the flight, employees removed him from the plane.

Even United officials admit to the gravity of this situation where a paying customer was treated with such gross disrespect.

“It’s not so much what I thought, it’s what I felt. Probably the word ‘ashamed’ comes to mind,” United CEO Oscar Munoz said in an interview with CNN. “He was a paying passenger sitting on our seat in our aircraft, and no one should be treated like that. Period.”

Because Dao is a Chinese-American, racism was immediately cited as a reason for being treated so brutally. Though it cannot be determined whether or not racism was actually a factor, this possibility has caused quite a controversy.

“United Airlines just randomly chose an Asian? It’s blatant racial discrimination,” a WeChat user named @Rhando_hiclarie said.

Another interesting aspect of this situation is the media’s response. Outlets including The New York Post, People Magazine and The Washington Times recognized Dao almost immediately as having been convicted of drug crimes and having a “troubled past.” These claims frame Dao as an aggressive criminal when, in fact, he was the victim of the situation and never fought back against United officials or broke any official rules.

As students at a university that prides itself on being geographically diverse, many students use United when flying home or to other destinations. We must consider incidents such as this one when choosing airlines. Though some people may consider this petty or unnecessary, it is imperative that we only give our money to those large companies we fully approve of.

This entire incident was problematic and, in the future, companies such as United should be more respectful of their customers. 

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the opinion of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Robin is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be contacted at [email protected]