United Airlines was strongly offended on Monday for the treatment of a passenger who was physically dragged off a plane which was overbooked by the airline and one of the security personnel involved in the incident was placed on a leave pending an investigation.
Videos posted online by the passengers showed the man screaming and as officers pulled him off his seat on United Flight 3411 before it departed from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky on Sunday.
The man, who appeared to be Asian, was seen being dragged down the aisle on his back by his hands, body limp, bleeding from the mouth, glasses askew and shirt pulled up above his navel. This was the second time in a month that United was criticised for its treatment of passengers.
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) April 10, 2017
United Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz did not apologise for the way the passenger was handled, writing that the passenger had defied security officers, according to a letter circulated to employees. Munoz said there are lessons that company could learn from this situation, though he impressed that he “emphatically” stands behind his employees.
“We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation),” Munoz wrote. “When we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions.”
The Chicago department of Aviation said in a statement that one of the officers did not follow protocol and added that he had been placed on a leave pending a review of actions not condoned by the department.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) said it was reviewing whether United complied with the overbook rules that require airlines to set guidelines on how passengers are denied boarding if they do not volunteer to give their seats.
“While it is legal for airlines to involuntarily bump passengers from an oversold flight when there are not enough volunteers, it is the airline’s responsibility to determine its own fair boarding priorities,” a DOT spokesperson said in a statement.
‘JUST KILL ME’
The incident was trending on the twitter as users took to the website to express their anger towards the airline.
Video posted to the Twitter account @Tyler_Bridges shows three security officers huddling over the seated passenger before dragging him to the floor. Bridges said the man told that he is a doctor and has to return home to his patients.
— Kaylyn Davis (@kaylyn_davis) April 10, 2017
The airline said it had asked volunteers to leave because additional flight crew needed to get to Louisville.
“Apologise for saying you ‘had to’ do this. There were other options and you know it,” user @TessaDare wrote in a series of posts retweeted thousands of times. “Apologise for creating and allowing a corporate culture that says it’s okay to treat passengers with such disregard and disdain.”
Fellow passenger Jayse D. Anspach, who goes by @JayseDavid on Twitter, wrote:
— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017
Last month, two teenage girls dressed in leggings were denied boarding on a United flight from Denver to Minneapolis. The reason was their form-fitting pants did not conform to the dress code for employees or family users using free passes.