Flying the friendly skies of United

By: 
Krayton Kerns
Veterinarian

United Airlines stepped in it when they dragged a reluctant and bleeding volunteer off their plane under the watchful eye of passengers bearing smartphones. Facebookers had an electronic heyday and I too jumped on the bandwagon, but rather than the internet, I scribbled United memes on the flipside of my old campaign signs. Here is the story.
This weekend, while celebrating my 60th birthday, my entire family plus friends, gathered in my back pasture for the inaugural Kerns Killer 5K run. The 3.1-mile course travels through the sagebrush flats, climbs and descends the butte three times before returning to my hangar. Directly under the redwood sign displaying the course map, I stuck a recycled campaign sign announcing, “Age group winners receive: 1) Complimentary re-run, or 2) Overbooked United Airline flight anywhere in the USA.” Of the 60 or so competitors, none voluntarily collected either prize.
I scattered inspirational and not-so-inspirational repurposed campaign signs around the course, such as on the first major climb where I welcomed everyone to the “United Airlines training camp.” On the second climb, I cheered runners to “Run like a Border Collie, or sit in the pickup and chew on the seatbelts.” Halfway up the final climb my sign read “Suck It Up Buttercup…United Airlines complaint department motto.” I apologize if I hurt the self-esteem of any United Airlines employee; my words are meant in jest. Suck it up buttercup and this brings me to my point.
United Airlines missed a golden opportunity to celebrate free-market capitalism rather than forcibly removing four passengers from their flight to Kentucky. The company’s action was within the parameters of every ticket’s fine print, but had they put four seats up for auction, four people would have likely jumped ship at $1,000 travel vouchers. The law of supply and demand will set a price satisfying all parties, but as it sits now, only the attorneys are smiling.
On Saturday, May 6th, I will be speaking at the Union County GOP political rally in La Grande, Oregon. Air travel to the hinterlands was spotty before United Airlines began tossing passengers. It would take all day to fly there and all day to drive, but unless the trophy wife bloodies my nose and bumps me out of the car, driving is more reliable. There is an old pilot’s adage “time to spare, go by air, but if you have to be there, drive.” United just made it timely.

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