United Airlines is done. Lets talk about Chicago police

No life science patents, congresses or corporate matters this time. This post goes beyond. It should affect your choice of flights to Arrowhead’s annual Drug Repurposing Conference in June.

Imagine you have booked a table at a Chicago restaurant. To get the reservation, you had to pay in advance. While you are waiting for your meal, you are suddenly ordered to give up your table: somebody from the restaurant staff needs to eat there. You refuse, and a minute later police officers storm in and drag you off, bloodying you in the process while the patrons shriek in panic.

Replace „ table“ with “airline ticket”, restaurant” with „United Airlines,“ and „meal“ with „flight UA3411 from Chicago to Louisville“ – and you have exactly what happened to Dr. David Dao on April 9, 2017. I don’t give a rusty dime about his history and background. As a frequent flyer and business person, I care solely about the relevant facts; which are that a paying and seated passenger was picked at random, forcibly removed from the plane, and injured to make room for airline staff. All legal, as we are being told – because once you board a plane you have effectively surrendered just about all your rights.

But lets not talk about this shameful and disgraced airline; there is enough of that under the hashtag #BoycottUnitedAirlines on Twitter and elsewhere. These videos will stick, no matter what they do now. At H.M. Pharma Consultancy we would be very surprised if United could remain a preferred carrier for any congress organizer, or an acceptable choice for any company – or in fact, for any booking office or private traveler. We are certainly going to make our incremental contributions towards that.

Rather, lets shine a little bit of light on the role of the Chicago police – after all, it was their officers who stormed in and manhandled a paying passenger. One should imagine that the CPD has about enough on its plate controlling the various do-no-gooders on their streets. But perhaps this daily challenge is just what frustrated them so that they were happy to take it out on an elderly physician when United gave them the opportunity.

Lets hope that our friends in the Chicago life science community will not be satisfied with the suspension (and likely re-instatement, once the bruhaha has abated) of the three involved officers. Lets hope that they will pressure City Hall to make sure the CPD will not ever again provide thugs on behest of an airline that treats its paying passengers as so much cattle.

Because otherwise, decision makers worldwide might start asking themselves if Chicago really is such a good place to use as an airline hub, to conduct business, or to hold conferences. Because otherwise, they might conclude that you are safer in your flights, and at the hands of the local police, elsewhere. It is a large world.