Hi bd. Almost guaranteed that it was a last minute thing that Republic crew sked did because of IROPS in some way/place. DH's (for an entire crew like this) are normally scheduled and in the system long in advance, be it the mainline or regional contract carrier. If that were the case here, there would have been 4 seats available for them. It would appear that the Republic crew sked opened the flight after it was closed by United sales agents (usually no less than 30 minutes before sked), and added the 4 DH crew. That left the United agents probably swearing under their breath and then going down to the already boarded airplane to look for the volunteers. The bottom line in this case is that is a part of the CPA that Republic and UAL have. They (crew sked) can do that. The sales agents then have to deal with it at the customer service level, which they deal with on a regular basis I'm sure. Unfortunately they ran out of tools ($$) that night, and were left with having to expropriate a seat in the end.
My question now- did this guy (and his wife) initially agree to compensation as I've read ($800 ea) but then change his mind? Timeframe? One seat or now two saying 'no'? Usually 'denied' boarding (or seat expropriation) has a protocol to follow (non-rev, fare structure, card member status etc.... then down to last pax checked in). Who checked in last? I imagine when they initially accepted the compensation, they were "offloaded pax" (in the res system) quicker than you can say "UNTIED". Dr. D then decides "you know, that's a big ol' negative. I've changed my mind... I'm gonna stay", and a whole new set of problems have now arisen. The United agents were probably strapped for options now, and so they escalated it. I believe there are many parts to this story, and the public will never know (nor understand) everything that went on. The general public don't understand airline ops on a good day. Throw in a "CPA" and they really don't get it (even the media often gets it wrong). So many sides to this issue- even the cops dragging the guy off probably had no idea the complexities of it. Charter a flight to move the crew- great idea now that we've seen what happened. But I'm certain it's not in the CPA (who pays for that, Republic or United?). The reality is, the United agents (specifically a CSA manager) need to be able to offer whatever they need to in order to make things happen.
An offer of '4 free tickets in the system' would've probably got them their damned seat, and cost them next to nothing in the end. Someone would've bit.
My 4 observations:
1) Dr. D should never have been treated like he was
2) Dr. D behaved like a child for everyone to witness
3) Airlines need to have provisions (read $$ and management) to deal with this before they call 911
4) I always check in as soon as the flight is open to do so...