One of the cool things about traveling and working at a major airport is I meet so many people from all around the world. One of my girlfriends who is a flight attendant has been following the United 3411 story and has agree to answer some questions for me from an employee perspective.
That one crew is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, between their pay, and the hotel stays for each of them, loss of company incentives for completed and on-time departures, vouchers and refunds due to a canceled flight(s), if that crew cannot be repositioned to where the airline needs them to be to work another flight.
So it is much more valuable to a company to get their crew where they need them to be than to appease a passenger or three. Cold, but it’s a fact.
Final thought: I truly am not here for the “But he was a doctor!” line of reasoning. That makes him more worthy of travel than the McDonald’s cashier going to a family reunion, or the lawyer who is on their way to a funeral, or the accountant who is headed on their honeymoon? Everyone, every passenger, has a story, and all of them can come up with valid reasons for why they *have* to make this flight.