It's been a tough couple of weeks for airline passengers.
On April 9th, United had to try to explain why it had pulled a paying passenger from his seat and dragged him down the aisle and off the plane (fortunately a plane still on the ground). More recently an American flight attendant was observed fighting with a passenger over a baby stroller.
There are several issues raised by the events of April 9th: Airlines as a Mode of Transportation; Load Factors and Bumping Passengers; What's the Law; Prohibited Speech; Crisis Communications 101; and What to Do?
Let's, as they say in the theater, "take it from the top."
Airlines as a Mode of Transportation
Air travel has always been problematical. Prior to the Wright brothers, many designs (with flapping wings like birds and such), if set aloft from on high, simply ended in humiliating crashes. For the Wright boys, it involved their, ultimately successful, need to blend technology, engineering, and physics.
Today's commercial aircraft have solved most of those problems. When the weather's right, they seem capable of lifting the equivalent of one's high school gymnasium off the ground, enabling hundreds of complaining occupants to sit in chairs miles in the sky, covering in hours distances that, 200 years ago, would have required their ancestors months to traverse (as Louis C.K. has observed; Google: "louis ck complaining flying").
Notwithstanding this engineering accomplishment, airplanes and the companies that operate them, have become dysfunctional as a mode of transporting humans.