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USA Today: UA forcibly remove random pax from flight

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USA Today: UA forcibly remove random pax from flight

Old 16th Apr 2017, 08:15
  #1081 (permalink)  
 
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These shocking stories make me wonder how on earth any of the Big 3 flying disgraces are still in business - they are all as bad as each other.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 08:16
  #1082 (permalink)  
 
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The lawyers for the plaintiff, from the video, are saying the captain is responsible. Are airlines going to argue, in front of a county or federal court, that the captain is not completely in command when an aircraft is at the gate?

The phrase be careful what you wish for comes to mind.

Probably a moot point anyway, as this would be difficult to argue, and must already be written down somewhere in law.

How about a fire breaking out during boarding, who is responsible for ordering EVAC?
[... the gate agent, because they are performing the boarding process and the captain hasn't yet 'taken command' and doors aren't closed?]

I find it hard to believe that a gate agent would have boarded that flight and said to the pax '4 of you need to leave' without either the Captain's knowledge and/or blessing.

Last edited by newfoundglory; 16th Apr 2017 at 14:12.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 08:21
  #1083 (permalink)  
 
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This incident may well result in a thorough, and much needed, clarification of how and when responsibility passes from ground to cockpit.
Agreed.
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.
I don't think I quite fit in that category but......
If I had been the captain of that flight I would right now be feeling significant responsibility for the event and be thinking of all the different actions/communications/ management techniques I could have employed that would have resulted in a different outcome.
This could easily have happened on one of my flights as I usually defer to the expertise of both senior cabin crew and ground based personnel in situations like this. 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.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 08:33
  #1084 (permalink)  
 
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And I as pax would want you to be on the flight deck checking and preparing for flight of an aircraft in an ordered, cool, calm and collected manner, having a firm reliance on ground staff to do their jobs as they properly should. Dealing with passengers before the aircraft has moved should not be added to your workload.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 08:38
  #1085 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by SMT Member View Post
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.
On behalf of those, I apologize. We're really sorry most of us have actual flying duties to perform and mandatory rest times (i.e. sleep) and we don't loiter around an internet forum as much as you'd have like us to posting stuff.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 09:15
  #1086 (permalink)  
 
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The lawyers for the plaintiff, from the video, are saying the captain is 100% responsible. Are airlines going to argue, in front of a county or federal court, that the captain is not completely in command when an aircraft is at the gate?

My first reaction to the lawyers claim is that there is some ignorance here. The doors are open, the a/c is not 'in flight' and has not yet departed. The engineers would be in charge of dispatching the a/c from a maintenance point of view; the state manager/dispatcher is responsible for ensuring the correct passengers are on board, and solving any consequential problems. The captain might become involved if there is a safety issue towards the a/c or the personnel. Neither was the case, so I fail to understand how the captain can be held responsible for a decision & chain of events that they were never at any time involved with. Even if the doors had closed and they were taxying, and the station manager ordered a 'return to gate' I suspect the captain would comply. So, IMHO, there are times when the captain is NOT 100% in charge of what happens to/with the a/c. It is his toy to do with as ordered by the company not as he would if he owned the football.

As captain I would not be best pleased if someone tried to lay this debacle at my door. The only way that could happen is if the captain intervened and instructed the bouncers to 'remove' the pax.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 09:30
  #1087 (permalink)  
 
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OK RAT 5, in this case as a Captain would you have to be informed as to what's going on (e.g. if Police were coming on board after someone)? Would you become involved if you knew there is a safety issue towards some of the passengers on board the a/c?
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 09:32
  #1088 (permalink)  
 
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We are in uncharted waters

We are still here framer. We are waiting for some definitive answers to some simple questions. The biggest one is when is passenger boarded? Another is if you or the "system" decides passenger X can NOT be flown, what is the status of that passenger and what is the status of the Captain of that flight immediately after that decision has been taken? Lastly, which rules apply to a passenger who has been, for want of a better word, "deplaned"? Do the airports now bylaws apply or do national laws take precidence? These are grey areas which have not been tested until now. And let's remember, we are talking about legal definitions which may not be the same as common English language usage. Once these have been answered, the rest of this debacle can be dealt with. This will determine the culpability of the Captain and the enforcement staff who ejected the Doctor. Certainly if I was one of the latter I'd want this sorted first. What do do not think us up for dispute is that UA broke their contact with this passenger.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 09:33
  #1089 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
"In the interest of safety for our customers and employees, we do not accept as checked or carry-on baggage any recreational self-propelled vehicle or device designed to carry one or more persons or goods, and which moves by use of a lithium battery-powered electric motor.
In the case cited the vehicle wasn't "recreational"; it was a piece of mobility kit for a man with a spinal injury/deformation.

But again, the man took the trouble to call well in advance and check. He has every right to feel aggrieved.

I really think some of the pilots on here need to reign-in the egos a bit.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 09:49
  #1090 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by RAT 5 View Post
The only way that could happen is if the captain intervened and instructed the bouncers to 'remove' the pax.
Bouncers is too grand a word for the vicious and cowardly thugs that carried out this supreme act of violence on the instructions of someone employed directly or indirectly by United Airlines. Any crew (flight or cabin) who just stood by and allowed this to happen on board the aircraft they were assigned to manage are just as guilty.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 09:52
  #1091 (permalink)  
 
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PDR1 - Ego? I think not. People have asked a question, DR got the facts and posted them. And then you didn't bother to read them. Otherwise you would not have missed the second clause "...or device designed to carry one or more persons..." which I think covers mobility aids. I'll agree that again this was poorly handled, but this is typical of today's customer services, not just UA. Try dealing with the half witted, pernicious, grasping, don't give a toss cretins at a well known mobile phone provider. They make UA look saints by comparison.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 10:45
  #1092 (permalink)  
 
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I would like to think that any flight crew would NOT get involved in ANY dispute on the ground whilst preparing for their flight and not be expected to in any circumstances.

Those who think it a good idea to involve the crew in what may turn into a stressful situation prior to flight would do well to recall BE548.

Air travel used to be a fast way to travel, exciting, pleasurable and safe. We have lost most of that, lets not jeopardize the safety aspect.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 11:36
  #1093 (permalink)  
 
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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.
Agreed

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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Old 16th Apr 2017, 11:38
  #1094 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Piltdown Man View Post
And let's remember, we are talking about legal definitions which may not be the same as common English language usage.
Yes, but a word doesn't have a legal definition unless it's defined legally.

In other words, a court will rule that every term in a contract has its everyday meaning, by default, unless it has a more specific meaning defined in the contract preamble.

There is no such specific meaning offered for "boarding" in the Conditions of Carriage so, as previous posters have pointed out, anyone trying to claim that a passenger sitting in his/her assigned seat hasn't "boarded" will be laughed out of court.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 12:59
  #1095 (permalink)  
 
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@DingerX
Ian W can go on about "The Chain of Command", but it's a jet parked at the gate before the captain accepts it.
DingerX, personally I would argue if flight crew are on the deck and preflighting and pax are boarding (after confirmation from flight crew that plane is good to board), then PIC has accepted jet - and assumed significant responsibility.

This thread has demonstrated a fair bit of heterogeneity about the limits of PIC authority and responsibility. It appears likely these limits will now be defined elsewhere. There is one fundamental constant however - responsibility and authority always go hand in hand, and they will remain the opposite faces of the same coin.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 13:15
  #1096 (permalink)  
 
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Who's in charge, doors open?
Captain has accepted the a/c; station manager informs him that the company has ordered him off the a/c and to return to the crew room, no information known. What does the captain do; he wants to go home? Who's in charge?
Captain has accepted the a/c; station manager informs him that the company has ordered him, the station manager, to off-load 4 pax to allow DH crew. What does the captain do; he wants to go home? Who's in charge?

IMHO the captain can not be held responsible for the 'assault' on the pax because he had no knowledge of it nor could have been expected to anticipate it. I've only had one occasion to off-load a pax on arrival. They had refused CA orders during the flight. Station manger altered before arrival. He arrived with suitably imposing police officers and the pax was escorted off in civil manner, in full view of all the pax, to applause. The Station Manager was in charge of the whole affair and coordinated any prosecution on behalf of the company. I just wrote a report and disappeared PDQ to the hotel.

There is a thread on JB discussing 'volunteers.' I wonder what others might do if they were the victim: you are a legitimate pax with full fare ticket and seated. Some unknown bouncer type guys start ordering you around in a manner you consider unlawful. They are not police and you have committed no offence. They then start to 'attack and man-handle you in an unacceptable manner.' You strike out to defend yourself. What then? They flatten you into pulp and charge you with assault? That can't charge you with resisting arrest; that doesn't apply. So if you resist in such a way as needed to defend your person what could be the consequences? You are not a volunteer, but have been declared one. (read JB)
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 13:41
  #1097 (permalink)  
 
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Captains have very little say in boarding-related matters. Airlines have systematically eroded captain authority to the point that captains have actually been reported to police for interfering with gate agent duties.

Everyone wants to see this captain hung out to dry because he didn't act to intervene. Pilots are perceived as sky gods by many, neutered by company policies in reality, and thrown under the bus when the company or traveling public need an 'out'.

You can't have it all ways. It's part of the reason this job isn't worth that much anymore.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 13:56
  #1098 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by RAT 5 View Post
The lawyers for the plaintiff, from the video, are saying the captain is 100% responsible. Are airlines going to argue, in front of a county or federal court, that the captain is not completely in command when an aircraft is at the gate?

My first reaction to the lawyers claim is that there is some ignorance here. The doors are open, the a/c is not 'in flight' and has not yet departed. The engineers would be in charge of dispatching the a/c from a maintenance point of view; the state manager/dispatcher is responsible for ensuring the correct passengers are on board, and solving any consequential problems. The captain might become involved if there is a safety issue towards the a/c or the personnel. Neither was the case, so I fail to understand how the captain can be held responsible for a decision & chain of events that they were never at any time involved with. Even if the doors had closed and they were taxying, and the station manager ordered a 'return to gate' I suspect the captain would comply. So, IMHO, there are times when the captain is NOT 100% in charge of what happens to/with the a/c. It is his toy to do with as ordered by the company not as he would if he owned the football.

As captain I would not be best pleased if someone tried to lay this debacle at my door. The only way that could happen is if the captain intervened and instructed the bouncers to 'remove' the pax.
I agree - from a legal standpoint it isnt even the Captains aircraft until Engineering have signed off all their paperwork and the Captain signs to accept the aircraft.

Of course the Captain will have some responsibility for the Airline operation as regards passengers and freight but even that seems a rather grey area (as shown by this thread)
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 14:17
  #1099 (permalink)  
 
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The lawyers for the plaintiff, from the video, are saying the captain is 100% responsible.
He didn't say that

Some folks are implying that's what he meant. The comment was made in a conversational tone implying to me that sometimes it applies.
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Old 16th Apr 2017, 14:33
  #1100 (permalink)  
 
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Everyone wants to see this captain hung out to dry because he didn't act to intervene. Pilots are perceived as sky gods by many, neutered by company policies in reality, and thrown under the bus when the company or traveling public need an 'out'.
I don't think thats true. I don't believe any of us know all the circumstances, but my feeling is most people are not blaming the pilot.

Personally I feel sorry for all concerned - the pax obviously, but also the staff and the LEO. No one wanted this. No one. It quickly spiralled out of control and went somewhere no-one anticipated. There were some latent risks, and in this case the holes started lining up.

But in general (and not pertaining specifically to this case), I suspect PIC are at risk of getting caught up if someone else makes an error or oversteps his/her authority. If there is a major problem onboard, then I don't think a suggestion that PIC has zero responsibility will fly.

Overall I think the public treats pilots with a substantial degree of respect and esteem. However the attitude of a few here doesn't help. And all sorts of people read this site.
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