A United passenger flying back from New Orleans to San Francisco had his ticket cancelled by a United gate agent after filming the agent during a dispute over baggage fees. United, in already a dangerously precarious position after the fiasco with Dr. Dao previously being dragged off a United flight, responded quickly, but the situation is still without resolution.
To Record or Not: Passenger Argument
The passenger, Navang Oza, claims the same bag, which cost him $125 to check out, now costs more than double that – $300! – to fly back, as it exceeded the 50 pound weight level. While Oza admits he drank the previous evening and this incident occurred early morning, he insists he wasn’t drunk, and began recording the gate gaent. Despite United’s claim of no longer using airport police, they arrived, after the agent began to film Oza as well. However, the officer says he has the freedom to record, as it was a public space, and while Oza tried to escalate it to a manager, the cancellation required another booking with another airline.
Granted, it is possible that the bag was just under 50lb going to New Orleans, and now exceeded the 50lb level going back – due to new items that Oza added but did not remember, or perhaps items he moved from his other belongings to this bag. I would recommend level heads check the bag, and perhaps he would be able to reorganize his belongings to be under the level where they charge $300.
No Permission To Record: Gate Agent Argument
Inperson conversations: A person cannot overhear or tape a private conversation to which that person is not openly present and participating or listening, unless consent to record is given by at least one of the parties to the conversation. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15:1303.
Thus, her argument about recording in a public space, is void. In return, she penalizes him by canceling his flight, forcing the passenger to book another flight on another airline. This is incredibly unprofessional behavior, and the gate agent should be reprimanded or censured – to ensure this does not happen in the future. Do they even have the right to cancel your flight anytime for any bogus reason? That seems quite ridiculous.
United responded to Oza saying they are reviewing the situation – which does not say much of anything at all. Oza is currently fighting for a refund of his one-way ticket that he had to purchase. It must be an incredibly frustrating ordeal for him. I don’t think Oza is like the others trying to capitalize on airline misfortune – simply trying to be treated equitably and being reimbursed for his out-of-pocket costs. While I would argue he is well within his rights for punitive damages, he has better sense than I do.
I really think the airlines should improve their training policies. They should condition employees to see people as people, rather than cattle and dollar signs. If Mr. Oza’s bag was in fact heavier due to more things, the onus is completely on him. He should 1) know that it’s heavier and 2) do something to rectify the situation. And while the gate agent absolutely should not have cancelled his flight, it is definitely on her to help by asking about the bag – for example, seeing if it was possible he added things or moved things from other belongings to his bag.
Long story short, there is no reason why his bag, if nothing was added or subtracted, weigh more. Perhaps it was an issue with the scale, but I am sure those are rigorously tested and monitored. More as the story develops!
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