Have we reached the tipping point? Have they finally gone too far? We of very little faith in airlines have good reason. Time and time again we’re let down, left stranded, abandoned, bumped, over charged, nickel and dime’d and there surely must be an end. Even as a jaded, crass doubter, I can’t help but think the playbook will be changed from this incident. Because what airline would want to be United today?…

Do you have any skeletons in your closet? I don’t particularly care, I only ask because airlines definitely do, and the last thing they want is the world’s very best journalists going for a dig. As of Saturday, last week, no journalist on earth had an interest in digging for United skeletons. Today, there’s bounty for their head. David Lazarus, the famed LA Times consumer writer, is receiving thousands of emails per day with fascinating unpublicized United horror stories. He continues to write them, as he sees fit.

Just today as well, it’s being reported that Delta has doubled the amount of compensation gate agents can offer to bumped passengers, quintupling the amount its supervisors can offer in extreme cases. Will the next gate agent be so quick to call in law enforcement to remove a non violent passenger? I think not. This is great PR for Delta, and a sign that power needs to be put into the hands of the employees facing customers. How badly would United like to go back to the gate area and up their compensation offer for the flight in question, rather than sit here today?

We are not the enemy. We are the tired people just trying to get somewhere. Sometimes it’s home for the holidays, sometimes it’s “anywhere but home”. There’s just no need for a war to exist between passengers and staff. We get it, hearing people complain all day isn’t fun, but it’s work and we’re all people at the end of the day.

My wife and I were on a flight recently, flying first class when the crew mutinied on the pilot. He was clearly demonstrating erratic behavior and the crew, and co pilot literally walked off. Just for sending a single tweet, I was offered a $300 voucher and 10,000 miles as an apology. My wife doesn’t have a Twitter handle with thousands of followers or a “look at me” fancy “travel writer” tag line. She was offered $100 and nothing else, after filing an actual complaint. Not cool.

Perhaps post United incident, airlines will further see what we already knew: a person with no followers and no media connections can turn a passenger issue into a worldwide media story with a keystroke. Why? Because airlines have branded themselves the “bad guy” and no one likes seeing a fellow passenger bloodied, verbally abused or left behind. It’s stuff we’ll pass on to others. Will we see sensitivity training? Yes. Higher compensation? Maybe. Change? I can only hope…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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