WASHINGTON, April 11, 2017 — During Tuesday’s intraday trading, United Airlines stock (UAL) dropped by four percent (or $1 billion in market value) before rebounding to a more bearable one percent ($250 million) loss.
Some market watchers blamed a viral video bouncing around the Internet showing Chicago O’Hare Airport officers forcibly removing a screaming United passenger from his seat and dragging him down the craft’s narrow aisle and out of the plane, much to the consternation of his fellow passengers.
Details later emerged that the airline had over-booked the flight and asked four passengers to voluntarily surrender their seats in return for an $800 voucher and passage aboard later flights.
No one volunteered.
That’s when airline gate personnel allowed a computer to randomly select four passengers to remove from United Airlines Flight 3411, departing for Kentucky.
Not much has been said about the three passengers that quietly, if angrily, departed the aircraft, but much of the world now knows David Dao, 69, of Louisville.
According to reports, Dao told the United staff he was a doctor and had patients that required his medical services back home.
He then refused to vacate his seat.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who apparently took time away from the Syrian and North Korean crises, called the viral video “troubling.”
“The shocking scene also raised questions about possible racism, as the victim is reportedly Chinese-American,” said communist China’s People’s Daily, calling the incident “a humiliation to Asian-American communities.”
The London Daily Telegraph, on the other hand, had a much different take:
“The Vietnamese-American doctor who was hauled off a United Airlines flight was convicted of soliciting gay sex in exchange for prescriptions, lost his medical license, and then devoted himself to professional poker…”
The Louisville Courier-Journal added that Dao “surrendered his medical license in February 2005 after being convicted of drug-related offenses, according to documents filed with the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure… Broadcast and print coverage of Dao’s arrest, conviction and sentencing made his name familiar to some Kentuckians.”
And professional card player Matt Stout told TMZ that in 2009 Dao beat him in a poker tournament and eventually came in second to win $117,000.
He described Dao’s playing style as “crazy” and “fearless.”
Watching the cellphone video of the belligerent and high-pitched David Dao, one can’t help but think of author Jack London’s quip:
“Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.”