Unethical Airlines

My husband is perhaps the most ethical man on the planet. He never uses his work phone to make personal calls and if he discovered he accidentally took a pen home from work, he would probably write a check to the company to cover the cost. He can be a little...extreme...in his morality. Which is why I was floored when we disagreed on our travel day about the ethics behind airlines screwing passengers by intentionally overbooking their flights.

We're sitting in the Chicago airport on Sunday, waiting to board our flight to Charlotte. An announcement is made that they've overbooked the flight and need 6 people to give up their seat for a $250 travel voucher. Apparently there were no takers as 15 minutes later they announced the voucher was now up to $450. Then they got mean and said if people didn't voluntarily give up their seats, they would have to take the last six people who bought their tickets and bar them from entering the plane.

We'd purchased our tickets far enough in advance that I wasn't worried, but I was still angry. "That should be illegal," I said to Blair. "People buy their tickets and make plans based on travel times and an airline can force you off the plane because THEY got greedy and overbooked the flight."

"They're just trying to make sure they fill the flight," said Blair.

"It's unethical," I argued. "Buying a ticket is like making a contractual agreement and both parties should uphold their end of the deal."

In the background, they were now offering a $450 voucher and overnight stay in a hotel.

"It's not unethical," said Blair.

My jaw dropped. "How can you say that?" I howled. Then I went off about how just because something has always been done a certain way and it's accepted doesn't make it right or moral. I pretty much worked myself into a lather and was ready to represent in court any of the poor people who didn't make the flight.

I still think I'm right. What other industry gets away with such behavior? If I buy a movie ticket, I expect to be let in the theatre. If I make a hair appointment, I expect to sit in the chair. Why is it then that if I buy an airline ticket, I may or may not be allowed on the plane, depending on how badly they've overbooked the flight?

Nope, nope, nope. Unethical. Immoral. And really, just plain rude.