The video of the man getting bloodied by the police and then dragged from the United Airlines flight is a stark example of the declining respect business has for consumers. (More)

Steerage is a term that describes the travel experience of the poorest class of passengers on ocean-going vessels in the 1700s-early 1900s. It frequently wasn’t a pleasant way to travel:

The steerage passenger certainly gets but very little besides his passage. Practically no consideration is had for him as regards either space, food, service, or conveniences.

This is a compilation of the two videos I have seen on the incident:

In it, you can see a man surrounded by three police officers who forcibly remove him from his seat.  The man, unidentified at the time of this writing, had his head slam into the armrest of the seat across the aisle.  Photos from the incident show blood on the mans face.

Another video shows him later, seemingly confused and barely coherent.  He can be heard saying “Just kill me” and “I have to go home.”

I’m not a doctor, but that sure looks like a concussion.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz issued this statement about the incident:

Personally, I don’t want to be “re-accomodated” like that.

The United CEO’s attitude towards this customer, indeed all of his customers, reflects this modern spin on steerage class.

This video by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation captures my thoughts about the use of the police in this situation perfectly.

I think that the decline in the economic power of the middle class has had a deleterious effect on how we are treated by business.  As our dollars are fewer, we are each individually worth less.  At some point, to business, we become worthless. Income inequality has never been about the injustice that only some people get to eat caviar.  It has been, in part, about the injustice that without any economic power, you are treated like garbage by business.  And by the police.


Image Credit: New York Daily News