RUSH: They’ve moved on, ladies and gentlemen, to America’s domestic skies. Latest big news of the day…
(Frank Sinatra: Come Fly With Me)
I have an idea, my friends. United Airlines is in trouble. They are in PR trouble. They need a new ad campaign, and they need it fast. So what I think United ought to do, I think they ought to go to Cuba. They need to find Elian Gonzalez. Remember Elian Gonzalez? Well, for those of you Millennials and people too young to know, Elian Gonzalez was 5, 6, 8, 10 years old, whatever, living in south Florida with his aunt, Marisleysis Gonzalez, whatever.
His mother died en route to Florida from Cuba. She was on a raft with a bunch of Cubans, fell overboard and drowned. He was saved and his family living in south Florida adopted him and took him to their home. He was going to school and having a fun life, until the Clinton administration decided that south Florida was no home for Elian Gonzalez. He needed to be returned to communist Cuba because that’s where his dad was, Juan Gonzalez, who Fidel Castro said was a good worker.
And so under the cover of darkness, a fully armed rogue agent of Janet Reno’s stormed this little house in south Florida, walked in there pushing and shoving everybody out of the way, grabbed poor Elian Gonzalez and dragged him out of the house and put him in a mysterious vehicle. And off he was to Opa Locka airport for the flight to Cuba.
So I think United ought to find little Elian Gonzalez, who is an adult now and probably in his own way a good worker. And they ought to pay him whatever it costs, have him in a commercial for United Airlines, have Sinatra singing Come Fly With Me. And Elian Gonzalez, all he has to say is, “If I can get over it, so can you.”
(Continued playing of song)
Okay. So what really happened here? Thank you, my friends. Frank Sinatra from the Grooveyard of Forgotten Favorites, Come Fly With Me. That’s right, Elian Gonzalez, “If I can get over it, so can you.” So United has a flight from Chicago to Louisville, and on this flight are going to be four employees of United who have to get to Louisville to work a flight coming out of Louisville. This necessitated United Airlines pulling four passengers off the flight. It was fully booked and oversold.
The airline industry may be the only — I’m not sure about this — but it may be the only industry that oversells, like do theaters oversell seats? Do sports stadiums oversell seats? Do they sell one seat to two different people or three for the Super Bowl? It doesn’t happen. Now, we know that the airlines do it because there are cancellations, people don’t show up, and when the overbooked, oversold situation happens — and this is the case at United — they first offer bribes. They offered $400 and overnight accommodations to any volunteers that would get off the plane. No takers.
They upped the offer to $800 and maybe a suite at Motel 6, and no takers. There were no takers. Nobody wanted to get off the plane, so they randomly chose four passengers. We’re only hearing about one of them. And, man, oh, man, have we learned a lot about this guy. More on that in just a moment.
Now, the CEO of United, who just won an award for corporate spokesmanship, for corporate PR. This is unbelievable. The guy is Oscar Munoz, and he just won award as one of the best corporate communicators in the world of corporate communication. And he said, “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.” Re-accommodate these customers? There you have totally politically correct corporate-speak.
Well, one of the four passengers refused to get off. They had to drag the guy off. He was a doctor, he is a doctor, and he said he had to make the flight because he had patients waiting on him in Louisville the next day. So he had to get to Louisville. But he was randomly chosen. So they dragged him off the plane and they bring their four employee flight attendants and others who have to make that flight to work the next flight out of Louisville, and somehow this guy ends up back on the plane.
That really ticked ’em off. Apparently this guy having been removed, found his way, he snuck back in there with the United employees, and that’s when things got rough. So they sent the uniformed security people in to drag the guy, he refuses to go. Some passengers videotaped it. Others just watched and did nothing, which is causing some angst and concern in some quarters. The guy gets dragged off.
At the end of all of this, he’s bloodied and his glasses are down around his mouth and nose, and he’s shouting, “No, no, please, no more,” and he looks like he’s been tortured at Abu Ghraib or Club Gitmo. The guy looks like he’s been beat up. The video of this has gone viral, and now everybody in the country, instead of hating Comcast now hates United. I saw a survey, the most hated company in America among Millennials, I’ve tried to tell you, is Comcast. Millennials hate cable companies ’cause they charge money. Millennials want things like their entertainment to be free.
So, anyway, people can’t believe that United did this. What United is saying — it’s United Flight 3411 — what United is saying is that established procedures were followed here. But the problem is nobody has seen these established procedures before. But what they are further saying is, the passenger was belligerent. And when passengers get belligerent, for whatever reason, we don’t wait, we remove them, whatever it takes, because that becomes a security problem. Other passengers could be injured. We’re not gonna tolerate unruly behavior from any passenger, not even one who has refused to get off the plane and then did get off and has snuck back in there.
No patience, no tolerance for unruly passengers. That’s their story. They’re gonna stick with it. They will hope to ride this out. This is why I was trying to help here with my ad campaign idea that they might next try to employ. Now, who is this guy? Oh, there’s another element. The guy happens to be ChiCom. Well, I’m sorry, he happens to be Chinese. So now naturally, in our overly litigious, politically correct, cowardice little culture, there’s racism. Yes indeed, United was racist.
We’ve even got some clown, John Cho, who I never heard of until today. He’s an actor. He played in some of the sequels to Star Trek, played the character Sulu. This guy said that this only happened because of Trump. John Cho says that the forced removal of the United Airlines passenger could be traced to Donald Trump. He said, “It’s hard not to see a connection between the environment Trump has created and what happened on that United flight.” That’s how ridiculous this got.
But who is this guy? Well, the New York Post has dug deep, as has the U.K. Daily Mail. This is gonna further anger people because now it looks like the victim is being targeted and blamed. I’ll give you the details when we get back.
RUSH: Okay. The unruly United Airlines passenger that was physically removed from the plane twice is a doctor. According to the U.K. Daily Mail, he is a “felon who traded prescription drugs for secret gay sex with patient half his age and took them himself — and he needed anger management, was ‘not forthright’ and had control issues, psychiatrist found,” said a psychiatrist. His name is Dr. David Dao. His “troubled medical past is revealed in court documents.
“His wife … — also a doctor — reported him to medical authorities and his secret inappropriate gay relationship with a patient was revealed.” Well, the guy was really desperate to get back to Louisville. “Father of five … was convicted of a felony — but avoided prison time — because he was giving the man prescription drugs in return for gay sex. He denied the gay sex even though he was caught on camera shirtless and in his pants.” It was the Putin look.
RUSH: So what do you make, folks. We’ve got the U.K. Daily Mail and the New York Post and I’m sure other publications, too, have now written stories on who this unruly passenger is, and it’s not a pretty picture. And they portray a guy here who’s had to see psychiatrists for drug addiction and anger management issues and that he nearly lost his medical license.
One doctor wrote that the guy here, Dr. David Dao, “would ‘unilaterally chose to do his own thing.’ He only got his license back after agreeing to be drug tested and polygraphed.” What’s gonna happen here now is that numerous people are gonna get angry that the victimized is being blamed and smeared in the process in order to defend United.
Oscar Munoz, President and CEO of United Airlines.
This is USA Today: “United Airlines CEO Doubles Down, Says Employees Followed Procedures, Flier Was ‘Belligerent.'” Going forward, that’s gonna be what the airline falls back on. Belligerent passenger’s are removed from airplanes I think every day. You just don’t hear about it anymore, but it happens every day. Belligerent passengers, I mean, this is one thing, particularly in the post-9/11 world, the airlines will not tolerate. There’s no tolerance, there’s no patience for it.
If you’re belligerent, if you’re abusive to fellow passengers or flight crew members, they get you out of there. And that’s what happened to this guy. He snuck back in there somehow with the four United employees who were going to take the seats of the four people who were asked to leave, and nobody did, so they were randomly chosen. And, by the way, on that score, these are flight attendants and others who had to be in Louisville so that a scheduled United flight the next day could fly. Without a crew, they’d have to ground that airplane or cancel that flight. That’s a lot of money.
I would be very hesitant if I were you if you’re inclined to blame that flight crew, those four people that were ordered on that plan by the company. I mean, they’re employees. So if United tells them they gotta take that flight — I’ve had comments in social media say things like, “That flight crew, they should have just driven. I mean, it’s not that far, Chicago to Louisville, just drive.” Not an option. That’s up to the airline. The airline wanted them to fly, get them to Louisville. There were crew rest issues, too, and I think they were on the verge of the limits there, to tell you the truth.
Some of these crew members — if what I’m reading about this is accurate — had put in longer than the normal day. They had to get to Louisville to have some overnight rest in order to legally be able to work the flight out of Louisville the next day. But the USA Today headline: “United Airlines CEO Doubles Down, Says Employees Followed Procedures, Flier Was ‘Belligerent.'” I don’t know if that’s actually what they’re gonna hang with here as this goes forward. But it’s obviously a PR nightmare.
RUSH: We’re with William in Bozeman, Montana, a pilot with United Airlines. William, great to have you on the program, sir. Hello.
CALLER: Hey, good morning, Mr. Limbaugh. Mega airline captain dittos from God’s country. How are you doing today?
RUSH: Very, very fine. Thank you. What aircraft do you fly?
CALLER: I fly for United Express, and I fly the Embraer 170 and 175 version.
RUSH: That’s the plane involved here, isn’t it? It was a United Express flight?
CALLER: It’s the exact same thing.
RUSH: Right, okay.
CALLER: My initial thoughts on this, Mr. Limbaugh, is that people have forgotten that flying is a privilege and that with that privilege there come rules. And these are rules that are set forth by FAA, by the Transportation Security Administration, by the airlines themselves, and we have multiple venues where you can see where these rules are posted. But people choose not to do that, and then when it comes down to the point that we, as crew members, have to enforce these rules, we look like the bad guy.
You notice in this YouTube video, this posting, whatever it is, that they don’t show this guy being noncompliant. ‘Cause I can guarantee you half a dozen times before he was removed from the aircraft, there were crew members, there were gate agents, there were people trying to tell him respectfully, “Sir, you need to remove yourself from the aircraft.”
RUSH: Well, the impression is that when they first approached him they beat him up.
RUSH: I mean, that is the impression people are left with, is he was asked to leave, he refused to, so they beat him up and then he snuck back on and then they really got mad and dragged him — (crosstalk)
CALLER: — airplane post-9/11, Mr. Limbaugh, you’re gonna get hurt. I’m sorry, there’s gonna be a plane full of people that are not gonna put up with that anymore.
RUSH: It is interesting to look at the video you cite, the one on YouTube. You have the people that videotaped it on their phones, which, questionable legality there, but nobody’s gonna get in trouble for it. You have a lot of people that just sat there and didn’t do anything and probably, as you say, just wish whatever was going on would end so they could leave. They want —
RUSH: — to get where they were going. But you’re right, there isn’t any video of the guy being roughed up. People are speculating that he got bloody in the terminal somewhere after they removed him the first time, and then ended up dragging him out of there, his face bangs up against the seats. Speculating on how the guy’s mouth ended up bloody and so forth.
CALLER: Well, you know, and to be honest with you, Mr. Limbaugh, it comes down to the fact that there are rules. And as a crew member, as an airline captain, I don’t have a choice on whether or not I’m going to enforce these rules. There were four crew members — look at the Delta incident last week and the fact that we had three, four, five, six days of rolling chaos at Delta because we couldn’t get crews to where they needed to be. So we need to have those seats open for crew members —
RUSH: That was because weather in one hub, right, Atlanta caused all that —
CALLER: It was weather for a couple days in Atlanta and then I was flying in and out of LaGuardia on the Delta side last Thursday and Friday, and it was pretty brutal there too. So rolling chaos is what that is, but at the end of the day, we have to look at the bigger picture and we have to move crew members from point A to point B so that, like you said earlier, we can start tomorrow fresh with a fresh airplane, a fresh crew that’s well rested so that we can provide a service for eight, 10, 12 flights that are gonna be happening that the next day, which is going to impact hundreds, if not thousands, of passengers.
RUSH: Now, it looks like the United CEO or the United corporate is really focusing on the fact the passenger was belligerent and that, therefore, justifies or explains — once a passenger goes belligerent, gets unruly, that’s the end of tolerance, you get ’em out of there.
CALLER: You know, there’s kind of a little saying that noncompliance on the ground becomes a huge deal at altitude, right? When we sit there and we bring people on board and we’re gonna bring ’em up to seven miles above the earth and fly at four-fifths the speed of sound, there’s not a whole lot of — there’s virtually no tolerance at that point. If you’re going to make a big deal of something minor on the ground, who knows what’s gonna happen when you get in the air.
Who knows if you’re gonna order a beer from one of my flight attendants and now that’s just enough liquid courage that you’re now beating on the cockpit door. We have to take this stuff very, very seriously, because it has to do with the lives and the safety of the people on that aircraft and the lives and the safety of people who are on the ground. And it’s a zero-sum game. There is no tolerance.
RUSH: William, thank you. I’m out of time, but I appreciate that. That’s William from Bozeman, Montana. He’s a pilot for United, flies the same airplane involved in this episode.
RUSH: Time to head back to the phones here. (Come Fly With Me, by Frank Sinatra) Jeff in Simi Valley, California. Jeff, great to have you with us on the program. How you doing?
CALLER: I’m great, Rush. Thank you for having me on. I just got a quick comment on this whole airline situation. Why is it airlines cannot seem to reserve maybe three or four seats on each flight in the eventuality they need to put some employees on there in an emergency, where they’re not bumping people off all the time?
RUSH: You know, I was going through my Stack here. There’s a story on just your question about why they overbook, what is it about the industry that makes this happen. Here it is. U.K. Daily Mail: “Could You Be Dragged Off Your Next Flight?” See, that’s the way the news. Could this happen to you? It’s just silly. “Experts reveal why airlines always overbook seats and what your rights are if you get bumped.” And, look, there’s no mystery here. They overbook because not everybody shows up.
CALLER: Right. But if they just have — I’m in an airport I can’t remember how many times and I’m always hearing them trying to ask people, “Will you take a standby? Will you bump a flight? We’ll give you these perks if you take different plane.” If they always seem to be having this kind of a problem, why can’t they just reserve a couple of seats and that way there’s always room for an employee to get on the plane and they don’t have to have someone kicking and screaming getting thrown off the plane.
RUSH: Well, I can only surmise. I’d have to guess. The aviation industry, not just airlines, but the entire aviation industry fascinates me. These kinds of questions, they make total sense in every other business. The airline industry is the only industry that does this that I can think of. I can’t think of any other place where you’re buying or renting a seat to an event where they sell it twice. They don’t sell it twice at a football game. They don’t sell it twice at a basketball game or baseball game. They don’t sell it twice to a soccer match. I mean, movie theater, they don’t sell seats twice. They don’t overbook it.
The airline industry does, and they can show you their reasons, business and statistical, that not everybody shows up. There are people who actually seek — this probably won’t surprise you — there are people, passengers, who seek oversold flights who have no intention of ever going anywhere. They just want to get on a plane and accept the offer of cash and a hotel room to get off the plane. All kinds of people that connive and plan things this way. It’s a thing that the airline industry has obviously had to account for.
As to the just reserving some seats if they know they’re gonna have a crew that has to deadhead somewhere — by deadhead, that means to fly but not work on the plane. So you’ve got flight attendants that you have to have, like in this case, they had to have a crew in Louisville for the first flight out the next day, ’cause if that flight doesn’t go, then that flight not going affects that airplane’s movement the rest of the day.
My brother, my brother David got stuck in New York for two days last week. He got back from Israel on a Thursday, was scheduled to fly to St. Louis Thursday afternoon. They had weather in Atlanta and Chicago, it screwed up everything. He couldn’t get a flight until Saturday. By then, he stayed ’cause he was gonna have to be back in New York for his book tour on Monday.
That bottleneck happened with one hub shutting down for some hours because of weather, Atlanta, and there was another hub that was affected at the same time. So if they’ve got a flight that has to go first thing next day and they have to have a crew on that flight that’s not in that city, they have to get the crew there, then they deadhead them on a flight going to that city. That’s what was happening here on this flight from Chicago to Louisville. Why don’t they reserve four seats when they know they’re gonna have the crew? Because for some reason they don’t know they’re gonna need that flight that far in advance to get the crew there. That crew normally would be there on another flight that they have worked.
The airlines do not like nonpaying passengers on airplanes. They do not like having to deadhead crew to the next city. But for some reason this crew’s flight that was gonna get them to Louisville didn’t go. So they had to get that crew there anyway and probably just a culmination of events at the last minute that resulted in this. And you don’t want to reserve four seats on every potential flight and not sell them, ’cause it makes no business sense.
They have a system. They offer people cash incentives to get off if it’s overbooked. And normally it works. But when there’s a guy like this passenger, it can gum up the whole works. Anyway, I’m not here to defend anything. I’m trying to explain it in logical fashion why it might happen. Because there are reasons here that these things happen. And there are reasons that things don’t happen like your question. They’re not gonna reserve four seats that are not ever gonna be sold on a flight. That just would never happen. Well, I say that. I’m thinking maybe they could do it with a couple of seats they could really overcharge.
The later you buy your seat, the more expensive it is. The earlier you buy a seat, the cheaper it is. How do you think outfits like Priceline are able to do what they do? You ever stop — unused inventory. They’ve made deals, be it cheap tickets or whatever, they make deals with the airlines and any unused inventory at the last minute is turned over, and if it’s a matter of selling it for 10 cents on the dollar or not selling it, they’ll sell it at 10 cents on the dollar. But it’s all on the seat of their pants. The Super Bowl sells out a year or more in advance. There’s never any question the place is gonna be full.
(Come Fly with Me, Frank Sinatra)
RUSH: And back to the phones we go. This is Julio in San Francisco. Great to have you on the program, Julio. How you doing?
CALLER: Good. Thank you, Rush, for taking my call.
RUSH: You bet, sir.
CALLER: Your pilot that you had on earlier stole a little bit of my thunder. Obviously safety is of the utmost concern, and I think some of the things that are not being touched on is that he did mention the rules and the fact that when a customer or passenger is given a request or a request is made of them by one of the crew, if they don’t comply with that request, that’s immediate grounds for being removed, at their discretion. And what wasn’t hit on, I think, is this passenger chose to escalate the situation himself. He chose not to comply, in which case the staff, the crew all went around, asked him to deplane, he refused —
RUSH: Actually twice, by coming back on the plane after being removed the first time. That’s provocative.
CALLER: Right. And they have no other choice but to call on the police. And the police at the airport, just like TSA, are to be treated like the police anywhere else, with respect. And if you don’t comply with their orders, then what other choice is left? You know, this was of his own making. He could pull on his big boy pants and say, “Okay. Well, I’m just gonna have to comply,” just like everybody else who’s ever been bumped. I mean, my wife and I were on our way to our vacation in Hawaii, and, you know, luggage in place, buckled in, ready to shut the doors, they came to us and said, “Sorry, somebody else has gotta take your chair,” and, you know, you just have to grin and bear it.
RUSH: Well. Yeah. And you’re probably right, but in the current atmosphere, that’s a tough PR sell. I think this guy that we’re talking about, you said you do what you do with the police. He should have called Black Lives Matter if he really wanted to go to the top.
RUSH: If I were the United Airlines CEO, if I was Oscar Munoz, you know what I’d do? I’d run an ad and I would use this video, and I would say: “Our planes are so good and our flights are so popular, we have to drag people off of ’em.” (laughing) Really.