United Airlines had a full airplane ready to go on a flight from Chicago to Louisville. They then realized that they needed to put 4 United employees on that last flight of the day to Louisville so they could begin work in Louisville the next morning. This meant removing 4 paid customers who were already seated.
Usually an airline will offer money to people who might be willing to give up their seats in a situation like this. In this case, nobody wanted to accept the money and leave and people were chosen randomly to be forced off the flight.
One man refused to move. When the police arrived, they violently removed him.
This is just another example of how people simply do not seem to have basic problem solving skills and will resort to violence and force instead of fully using their intelligence to defuse and resolve a problem.
The Economist offers some solutions to this situation in this brief article:
Vocabulary from the article:
to compensate - in this case, to provide money for a service or action
a bumped passenger - someone who has to leave the plane because it was overbooked
habitually - a habit is something you tend to do over and over again, for instance smoking is a habit, and drinking sugary soft drinks is a habit
the assumption - the belief
to misfire - in this case: to be wrong, to miscalculate, to develop in a way you did not want it to
plumped for - chose (this is an obscure word choice, don't bother memorizing it)
would strike someone as wrong - someone would realize it to be wrong
they upped the ante - a poker term meaning it raised the amount of money at stake or available
to tempt them to leave - if you tempt someone to do something you try to get them to do something by offering something pleasurable.
randomly selected two people - they did not deliberately choose two people, they allowed a computer to choose two people by chance or without making a conscious choice
to disembark - to leave
distress - emotional pain
unrepentant - not sorry
mealy-mouthed - if someone says something in a mealy-mouthed way, he is lying because he is afraid to say what really happened
stinginess - cheapness
publicity - news