We must assume that when David Dao accepted some unknown number of millions of dollars from United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL) to go away, the airline expected he would then go away.
This did not occur.
Dao is the passenger who on April 9 ran back onto an airplane after Chicago O'Hare security officers removed him. He gained fame due to wide circulation of a 33-second video that showed him being removed, screaming loudly as he was dragged violently down the aisle, and a woman declaring "Oh my God!" five times.
United settled with Dao and his attorney on April 27. Terms weren't disclosed.
Last week, two media events made it clear that neither Dao nor the impact of his harsh treatment will be forgotten.
First, Dao gave an exclusive interview to DailyMail.com, resulting in his portrayal in a July 7 story as a modern-day renaissance man --- folk singer, songwriter, sitar and harmonica player, doctor, grandfather, humanitarian, reborn Christian, marathon runner, poker player, unflappable escapee from Vietnam and advocate for airline passenger rights.
A second widely reported story reflected the skewed reaction to the Dao incident.
That story involved a mother who recently flew Honolulu-Houston-Boston with her two-year-old son. On both flights, she bought an adjoining seat for her son. Honolulu-Houston went smoothly, but on the three-hour Houston-Boston segment, United employees gave the seat to a standby passenger.
As a result, the mother had to hold her son on her lap for the entire segment.
United compensated its customer and acknowledged two errors: an agent failed to accurately read the son's ticket, and a flight attendant reacted badly when informed that the mother had indeed paid for two seats.
Another troubling aspect to the incident is that the mother told Hawaii TV station KITV she didn't want to cause a scene, given what happened to Dao.
"I was scared and worried," the mother told the station. "I'm traveling with an infant. I didn't want to get hurt. I didn't want either of us to get hurt."
In other words, she had somehow been led to believe that United would not honor a ticket it sold -- that it would sell the same seat twice.
Why would anyone think that? The obvious conclusion is that consumer perceptions have been shaped by coverage of the Dao case.