We've all seen the video and photos of this guy, who was taken out by force from a United Airlines plane. I wanted to react about it, because several concerns pop into my mind.
First of all, I am terribly shocked by the method used by UA. I don't understand how this kind of behavior can occur in the USA. Honestly, this is … I can't even find the words! In fact, am I really surprised? Yes and no. Every day, we hear about the usage of "excessive" violence in all kind of situations. Please don't take my words wrong. Some situations, requires methods which we can qualify of rough, but there is a graduation to the answer which has to be proportional to each individual situation. You won't make me believe that everything has to be solved by violence!
Secondly, why did they choose this man in particular? Maybe I am wrong, but to me, it looks like he is Asian. Asians represent a majority at the scale of the World, but a minority in the USA, and, which is convenient, a minority which is quiet and never make noise. So this was making this man the perfect candidate to be dragged out, who would mind an Asian? (sarcasm)
Now, about Overbooking itself. This is shocking me that a company can sell more tickets than seats in a plane. However, I do understand the economical reasoning behind, and I know they all do that. A given number of passengers are not coming, or missing their flight, so airways companies are "optimizing" their fill rate. I think this is questionable strategy, a customer who paid for a service, has to obtain this service, and that's all.
Another thing I do not understand at all is, why the company is not blocking "extra" passengers "before" they go into the plane? When you come to the counter, they perfectly know how many people are already in. So, when the plane is full, why don't they simply refuse passengers right at the boarding gate? This is the point I do not understand at all. It seems so obvious, am I missing something?
I don't claim to know best, of course. But I think there is plenty of ways to handle overbooking. The simplest to me, would be to record books, then, once all the seats have been booked, then inform the next buyers that they will be on a waiting list, or at least that they'll be able to board only if another passenger is not coming. To compensate, you can give them a special discount. I think this would be a fair compromise.