- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

In the wake of the United Airlines passenger-removal controversy, an online pop-culture lexicon has the perfect term to describe the phenomenon of being “volunteered” to give up your seat on an overbooked airline flight.

Urban Dictionary designated “voluntold” as its word of the day for Tuesday, April 11, defining it as “forciby volunteered. A task that was once voluntary has now been ordered to you.” 

The entry, dating back to December 12, 2003, appears to have been chosen in the wake of the forcible removal of Dr. David Dao on Sunday from a United flight out of Chicago to Louisville.

As an airline representative told CNN, Dr. Dao and three other passengers had been asked to leave the flight to make room for four airline crew members who needed to get to Louisville in order to operate a flight originating from that airport.

While Sunday’s incident has been a public-relations fiasco for United Airlines and has ginned up much social-media discussion about overbooking, statistically speaking the phenomenon inconveniences very few passengers.

“[T]he number of people denied boarding — both voluntary and involuntary — was 1.07m in 1999 but declined to 552,000 in 2015, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics,” reported the Financial Times Tuesday. “Those might sound like large numbers but the 2015 level represented only 0.09 percent of trips taken by passengers.”

 

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