United, the airline that breaks guitars, is receiving some more bad publicity, this time from within the Pagan community. A Pagan boycott of the company is being suggested after they seriously bungled the aftermath of an altercation between a zealous Christian subcontractor and a wheelchair-using Pagan veteran.
“In August I filed a complaint against an employee of United Airlines who verbally attacked me for my religious beliefs. To date United Airlines and their subcontractor Airserve Corporation, have not made any efforts to alleviate the pain and humiliation I experienced. I had been traveling through Chicago on my way home to California when this incident occurred. I was waiting for a wheelchair to preboard my plane, but the attendant arrived too late to preboard me, despite the fact that I had asked him several times to ensure he returned for me on time. He then got another attendant who asked me to pray with him and give up my burdens to god. I am not a Christian and I informed him that I am the minister of a Druid congregation and then asked to change the topic. At this point he became confrontational and got down in my face; he began to quote scriptures at me and was so vehement that he sprayed spit in my face. He told me I would go to hell, quoted scriptures about false idols and told me that I would be a better person with his god in my life.”
After the humiliating incident, Rev. Jessie “Medb” Olson, Senior Druid for Feather River Grove, ADF, complained to United, and after some research, the subcontractor who employed the attendant. While Airserve Corporation (the subcontractor) did eventually fire the crusading individual, neither company has issued a formal apology for the incident, or refunded her ticket.
“…neither United nor the contractor, Airserve corp, has offered any restitution for the humiliation I experienced. United claims to have sent me a certificate for a new flight (no amount has been indicated) but I have NEVER received it and wouldn’t fly with them again if my life depended on it. All I want is my ticket refunded, a small price to pay for the horrendous treatment I received. I want to send a very clear message that United can not allow its employees to harass customers, no matter their religion, particularly helpless ones that can not remove themselves from the situation.”
Olson is calling for the Pagan community and its allies to boycott United and its subcontractors until this matter has been made right. I think the very least they can do is refund her ticket and issue a formal apology. Whether they do so remains to be seen, modern airline travel seems to be fraught with horrible customer service, and few step up and do the right thing without intense public pressure. You can contact United’s customer relations department, here, if you’d like to make your displeasure known. Perhaps the entire ADF and other large Pagan organizations can send a joint statement? I’ll keep you posted as things develop.