United Airlines, Surprised, No Not Really
Because the government has effectively granted airlines monopoly power their attitudes towards fliers is one of 'we just don't give a damn'. Physically dragging a person off a plane, no problem.
So the story of a woman trying to fly to visit her dying mother only to be taken off a plane for which she had a legitimate ticket and boarding pass is disappointing but not surprising. And equally not surprising is that the airline was United.
But soon after, Ms. Amrich learned that her mother was in heart failure and was not expected to survive the night. It was around 2:30 p.m., and Ms. Prelas immediately called United and had Ms. Amrich switched onto Flight UA5712, leaving Colorado Springs at 5:15 p.m. That flight would go to Denver, where Ms. Amrich would make a connection to Minneapolis. Ms. Prelas showed The New York Times confirmation emails and a photo of Ms. Amrich’s boarding pass.
She rushed Ms. Amrich to the airport, about an hour’s drive from Pueblo. Ms. Amrich checked in: no problem. Her boarding pass was scanned at the gate: no problem. She took her seat. She buckled her seatbelt.
Minutes later, the gate agent came on board to remove her.
When Ms. Amrich pleaded, saying her mother was dying, the agent responded that her ticket had been refunded and that “nobody flies for free.”
Back in the airport, Ms. Amrich called Ms. Prelas, sobbing. Ms. Prelas got on the phone with the gate agent and offered to pay for another ticket.
“I said: ‘Take my credit card. We’ll straighten this out later, but get her on that plane,’” Ms. Prelas said. The agent, she said, responded that Ms. Amrich could not get back on the plane.
As for United, well they have a near monopoly on most of the airports they serve, so in the words of Clark Gable, “Frankly Ms. Amrich we don't give a damn”.