The Tipping Point Of The Airline Industry (And How We Win)

United Airlines is really getting hammered right now. It’s not just the story of David Dao, the man who was beaten by security when he challenged their dipshit overbooking policies. Since the public turned Dao into a martyr unafraid to confront evil fascistic corporations that would be right at home in the RoboCop universe, United’s been accused of everything just short of being a literal Nazis.

Ah, I should’ve known better.

It doesn’t help that they’re also being accused of killing a gigantic rabbit that was well on its way to snatching the title of the world’s largest rabbit away from its own father.

The Washington Post/Annette Edwards
Look deep into the bunny’s eyes and feel the emotional manipulation of my inclusion of the picture taking hold.

And let’s not forget the controversy the Dao story overshadowed, in which United booted two teenage girls off of a flight because a dumb provision in the membership program they were part of had deemed leggings inappropriate in-flight attire. And now there’s a professional golfer complaining that United broke his clubs. Even Delta Airlines has been getting some residual heat after they removed a guy from a flight because he went to pee when the “Please Don’t Pee Right Now, You’ll Just Make a Mess” sign was on.

A passenger getting his face rocked by sky cops is a big deal. The golf club thing probably shouldn’t even be a story, but it happened to a quasi-famous person at the worst time for United, so we’ll allow it and a dozen other trivial controversies into the hate party, because since the first 1980s standup comedian joked about being cramped in coach while people in first class get caviar foot massages, bitching about airlines is a cherished communal catharsis. United unwittingly turned itself into the outlet we needed to purge our frustrations with their entire shitty industry.

So every time a new headline pops up about an airline doing what they have always gotten away with (losing luggage, killing pets), our first reaction is to roll our eyes and say, “Seriously? This is considered news now?” And I’m saying, “You’re goddamn right it is. Or at least, it’s the only form of non-news I’m totally fine with them printing.”

Airports seem to be poorly run debacles no matter where you go, while airlines themselves have been raising prices for years. If the money’s going to the in-flight entertainment, I don’t think those four episodes of The Big Bang Theory in the headrest were worth the investment. Every decade of air travel brings with it a new set of annoyances and complaints exactly like those. We’re all permanently pissed that we have no alternative but to deal with this suppository in the sky that we can’t escape without accidentally killing hundreds of passengers in the process.

Killing hundreds of fellow passengers seems like a fine alternative.

Whether all of this hate has any merit is irrelevant. Airlines can’t fight back against the shared cultural perception that they see us less like people and more like flying cattle so stir-crazy we’ll pay nine dollars for a ham and cheese engineered so we can also taste the torment we’re seeing, hearing, touching, and smelling all around the cabin.

The video of that guy getting beaten was a rallying point. It let us be mad at an entity which usually irks us, but not enough to call anything they do an injustice, even though our tendency to exaggerate minor inconveniences is begging us to consider the uncomfortable complementary pillow a civil rights violation. Once people have decided they hate someone, every trivial thing they do becomes another reason to hate them. The severity of the offense doesn’t matter; throwing your mom down a flight of stairs and liking peanut butter crunchy instead of smooth are on equal ground. When they sneeze, you want to tell them to eat shit and die instead of bless you, because of course Steve would sneeze. Sneezing is so typical of degenerate pricks like Steve.

We’re dragging out those delicious pent-up negative feelings as long as we can, using any flimsy reason we can, because it feels so good to be so mad, especially when the reason we got mad to begin with was so legitimately appalling. And we can do it forever. Each one of us has a camera in our pocket we will whip out to record anything we consider a sky tragedy with a speed that in another era would make us the fastest gunslinger in the West. From that perspective it all seems so entitled, but it’s not. All of it is an attempt at affecting some kind of change on an industry that’s always seemed like it doesn’t care about any of us, even if there were some objective scientific way we could prove that untrue.

If being obnoxious pricks who drag corporations through the mud online like they dragged a bloodied David Dao is what gets shit done, then so be it. People dogpiling their complaints the way they have is the least they can do. If you’ve got a problem on a flight, you can complain to the crew. When the problem is a larger systemic issue of disrespecting paying customers, no one’s going to pay attention to one person storming the gate …

… but they’ll listen to hundreds of thousands of us tweetstorming the gate. And if news outlets pick up on those viral outbursts and turn them into stories, so be it. This is the first time in history that we’ve been able to punch back against this shitty, shitty industry, and I’m all for it.

Luis is sharping his pitchfork, ready for whatever outrage comes next. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

The proliferation of beer pong and craft beer may have you think that we’re living in one of the peak times to get drunk, but humans have been getting famously hammered for millennia. Like a frat house’s lawn after a kegger, history is littered with world-changing events that were secretly powered by booze. The inaugural games of the Roman Coliseum, the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, and the Russian Revolution were all capped off by major parties that most attendees probably regretted in the morning.

Join Jack O’Brien and Cracked staffers Carmen Angelica, Alex Schmidt, and Michael Swaim, plus comedian Blake Wexler, for a retelling of history’s biggest moments you didn’t realize everyone was drunk for.

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For more, check out The 6 Most Badass Airline Pilots To Ever Stare Down Death and The 7 Worst Things Airline Pilots Have Done Mid-Flight.

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