Pilot Offloads Luggage to Take Employees

By | March 9, 2009
El Al Boeing 777
Image via Wikipedia

Two weeks ago, a captain of an El Al flight flying to Israel from an undisclosed city in Europe ordered the removal of a number of suitcases to allow two El Al employees to get on. Airline employees and their families are allowed to travel for a discounted or even free rate, depending on the airline and conditions on a space-available basis.

In this case, the plane had reached its weight limit. The pilot, after an investigation, was severely reprimanded. El Al declined to comment, as a matter of policy, on employee relations.

Employee Standby, or Non-Revenue Travel is a benefit airlines offer their employees. It is based on the idea that empty seats be given to employees, which is direct opposition to the goal airlines have of filling these seats, something easier to do as airlines ground planes and reduce capacity. For airline employees on duty travel…such as crew needing to go between cities to position themselves for their next flight, we could see this as a possibility. Airlines have been known to bump regular passengers for this. However, there is no indication this is the case.

A ticket entitles a passenger to certain rights, even as airlines try to erode them. This goes double if the airline charges a fee for checked luggage. They have a right for their bag to not be offloaded from an aircraft for this reason. While, if I were those two employees, I would be very upset about this, as airline employees, they should understand that the customer is ahead of them.

What do you think?

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