In case United Airlines isn’t aware of how problematic its statement on the controversial removal of a passenger from an overbooked flight is, Merriam-Webster whipped out a definition to enlighten everyone.
On Monday, after videos showed a bloodied United passenger being dragged down the aisle of a plane, the airline attempted to calm the widespread outrage by releasing several statements, one of which claimed that before choosing a passenger to be removed they asked for “volunteers.”
That’s great, United — except Merriam-Webster defines volunteer, quite simply, as “someone who does something without being forced to,” which was clearly not the case here.
The video shows a man being forcibly removed from his seat and dragged down the aisle with blood on his face while nearby passengers can be heard shouting for him to be released.
What actually happened seems extremely removed from the “voluntary” actions United appeared to be concerned with before choosing a passenger to removed, so it makes sense that people flocked to their trusty dictionary to double check the definition.
In response, Twitter followers dismayed by the situation began to create words they felt more accurately described the actions of the officers.
Merriam-Webster also took note that United repeatedly states the flight was “overbooked.” However, because the word was used adjectivally to modify a noun, the dictionary doesn’t have a proper definition for it.
The dictionary is your friend, United. Use it.
Video credit: Tyler Bridges via Storyful.