PPRuNe Forums - View Single Post - USA Today: UA forcibly remove random pax from flight
Old 16th Apr 2017, 11:36
  #1093 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: sydney
Age: 57
Posts: 406
I find it quite interesting how all those posters who said something along the lines of 'nothing happens without my approval' or 'I'm the commander, I make the calls' have gone awfully quiet recently.

This incident may well result in a thorough, and much needed, clarification of how and when responsibility passes from ground to cockpit.

In the future I will want to quickly and quietly meet with anyone boarding the aircraft to offload a passenger to gauge their attitude/ competence/ expertise etc.
I think you are better of being aware of issue and trying your best to resolve he situation than sitting behind a locked door in ignorance. You can try and duck responsibility, only to have responsibility find you in the courtroom. That said, I really want the pilots doing their pre-flight stuff without disturbance, which is why this should all be resolved before the aircraft.

The dividing line beyond ground staff responsibility and PIC responsibility is I suspect fairly blurred.

The CofC are reviewed from time to time, but have their origin decades ago:
1. A time when the Captain often stood near the door while Pax boarding.
2. And a time when pax might walk across the tarmac to board (even now is is sometimes a bus ride to the aircraft ). This meant the pax had passed through the gate sometime and some distance away, and any senior ground staff are some distance away.
Under both these conditions, it is not unreasonable for the PIC to have a lot of responsibility for any difficulties with final boarding / seating. On smaller planes they still do - sometimes moving pax around to help balance load.

Again, I suspect the airline's legal departments have always considered "denied boarding" and "deplaning" as quite different processes. Over many years CC, and ground staff and pilots may have pragmatically equated the two situations as simply "You were going to fly but now you aren't." But I suspect there has been a critical distinction in the legal department thinking and the the CofC. Frontline staff are perhaps now learning this distinction.

Look at it from legals perspective
1. Involuntary deplaning is high profile and high risk = avoid this at all costs
2. Want pilots quarantined from these issues. Ground staff are into people management. Pilots are into flight management.
3. Easier to be chasing a ground staff member for a report / answering a complaint than chasing a pilot.

So deny boarding for commercial reasons. Once you are on you are on - possession = 99% ownership. You only deplane someone for operational reasons - which is PIC call.

Anyway we can see where this is going:
1. Some LEO are saying deplaning isn't their responsibility. Its an airline problem to solve. More LEO will soon be thinking this way.
2. Pilots will reaffirm they don't want this problem (I believe as per the original intent of legal and CofC). If someone is in a seat and no operational reason to deplane, they ride.
3. Pax aren't going to tolerate deplaning in favour of repositioning crew. They now know their rights
4. No airline (nor anyone else) wants a repeat

So CofC will be clarified, and won't be subjugated by DH crew.
PIC will likely end up aware they carry at least some responsibility for everything on board - mitigate this by not deplaning pax unless operationally necessary. And if necessary, expect a very scripted and company approved process.

Last edited by slats11; 16th Apr 2017 at 11:58.
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