Conan O’Brien took the opposite approach, pretending that he doesn’t get enough audience members, and sometimes has to drag people in off the street to make them attend, but this may be too soon:
United Airlines has finally issued an actual apology for the instantly infamous video that circulated earlier this week, in which a paying customer was forcibly dragged by police from his seat to make room for an employee. But the damage was already done, with the brand now synonymous with “being physically and violently ejected from somewhere for no real reason”— something comedians and late-night hosts were quick to seize on.
Jimmy Kimmel has hit the airline the hardest, first with a monologue on Monday that questioned why airlines are even allowed to overbook when, for example, stadiums, never do. He even included a faux commercial for United that featured a flight attendant wearing brass knuckles and proposed the alternate slogan, “Fuck you”:
Ellen DeGeneres got in a dig at United’s recent controversy, in which teenage girls were reportedly denied boarding on a flight for wearing leggings: “I think United didn’t want people to wear yoga pants because there’s nothing to grab on to.” She then threatened to boot one of her own audience members before offering some pretty straightforward advice for the airline: “Do not overbook your flights.”
But wait, there's more:
Yahoo has a Fortune article by David Z. Morris about yet another United fuckup:
An impaired man who uses a small Segway (photo) for mobility. A United crew who won’t accept TSA’s judgment that the device should be allowed on the plane. A honeymoon hampered and a looming threat of arrest.
That’s the story told by Trey Harris, who describes himself as a former worker at both Google and Amazon. Harris suffers from spondylitis, a spinal condition which makes it difficult to walk. He uses a Segway miniPro to make life easier, and wanted to take the device with him on a March honeymoon cruise with his new husband.
He was well aware that the Segway could be a red flag for airlines, especially given recent safety concerns around so-called hoverboards. So he talked to both the TSA and United’s own Special Needs desk before the trip. Both said that the Segway was safe, and United placed a notification on his itinerary about the device.
Things seemed to be going according to plan on the day of the flight, as Harris and his Segway made it through airport security without issues. But, when he reached the gate, Harris says United staff told him he couldn’t board with the device. According to Harris’ telling, they ignored both the TSA’s recommendation that the device was safe and renewed assurances from United’s own Special Needs representative. Ultimately, Harris claims he was forced to abandon the Segway, with United telling him he could not even gate-check it as cargo.
Without his Segway, Harris was stuck with a much less convenient rented scooter, which kept him from fully enjoying his honeymoon cruise, and was occasionally dangerous. He insists he still had a great time, though, and isn’t looking for compensation from United, “not even for the scooter rental”.
That’s pretty magnanimous of him, especially considering that things somehow got even worse. In the middle of the cruise, Harris says he got a series of voicemails saying that he had abandoned a hazardous item at an airport: the Segway. He was told he could face both criminal charges and fees for the disposal of the device.
Ultimately, Harris was not arrested when he made it home, and he even got his Segway back. But, he says he hasn’t heard anything from United, even after sending a followup letter about the incident.
We’ve reached out to United for comment, and will update this story with any response to Harris’ story.
Rico says that United may never live this down, either...