Viral controversy turns up skeletons in closet
By now, chances are you’ve heard about the horrible situation developing around the United Airlines overbooking scandal.
In the shocking videos recorded by passengers, you may have watched as 69-year-old passenger Dr. David Dao was brutally dragged off the overbooked plane by airline security amidst screams and protests from other people on the crowded plane. It certainly didn’t help when United’s CEO responded by saying he supported the actions of the security involved, or when the Chicago police stated that the passenger was acting unruly and thus merited being body slammed and dragged off the flight (would you be calm while getting evicted from a seat YOU paid for?).
But now, some disturbing allegations and prior arrests on the doctor’s record are coming to light, and they aren’t exactly the sort of histories you’d want reveled by a national scandal. Regardless of how you feel about United’s poor treatment of its customers, this doctor’s dark past is further proof that in today’s technological world, privacy is a thing of the past.
You’ve probably seen the footage by now, but here is a compilation of videos taken by various passengers on United Flight 3411.
The Louisville-bound flight from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport had been overbooked—a common practice for many airlines—and the officials demanded that four passengers give up their seats in order to accommodate four United employees. When no passengers volunteered, the airlines picked four passengers at random, and when Dr. Dao refused to vacate his seat, security ripped him out of it.
The rest is history, and it’s become a total PR disaster for the airline, the world’s third-largest in terms of revenue.
You’d think United would understand the gravity of the situation that had transpired aboard the flight, but when CEO Oscar Munoz responded to the news, even loyal customers were disillusioned with his comments.
“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”
Munoz later followed up with an email to employees saying, “Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.”
And while it’s nice to see a CEO stand behind his employees for a change, we can’t help but think that the whole paying-customers-being-accosted-and-requiring-hospitalization thing is a prime example of following protocol.
The [Un]examined Life
For many people, being harassed and violated the way Dr. David Dao was might be not only humiliating but also downright damaging. For others, it could be the sort of PR fiasco that would result in a hefty lawsuit or comfortable settlement. (Why fly commercial when you can buy your own jet?) Unfortunately for the doctor, the last thing he wanted was to find himself at the center of an international controversy.
Privacy is a rare and precious thing in today’s interconnected, tech-savvy day and age. With just a name or university, many of us are able to track down a person’s entire online presence, from Facebook to Instagram, even to LinkedIn. Heaven knows how badly every single detail of a celebrity’s life is torn apart and examined at any given moment.
So when you find yourself peaking with overnight fame, you’d best be prepared for the impact it’s going to have on your previously calm and peaceful life.
For Dr. Dao, the United controversy brought back to light a dark and disturbing criminal past that could jeopardize his reputation or his entire career.