A day after shocking video clips emerged of a male passenger being dragged from a United Airlines flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport by three security personnel, as the airline said it was overbooked, the company’s CEO defended the action.
United CEO Oscar Munoz shot off a letter to his employees but did not apologise for the way the passenger was handled. He claimed that the airline employees followed “standard procedure” while dealing with the situation and that the passenger was being “disruptive and belligerent”. Munoz also wrote that he “emphatically” stands behind his employees.
The video posted online shows the guards grabbing the screaming man from a window seat and pulling him across the armrest, before dragging him down the aisle by his arms as he bleeds from his mouth.
— Kaylyn Davis (@kaylyn_davis) April 10, 2017
The Chicago Department of Aviation said that one of the officers who did not follow protocol has been placed on leave pending a review for actions not condoned by the department.
Passenger Audra D Bridges, of Louisville, told The (Louisville) Courier-Journal that after the passengers had boarded the flight to Louisville, Kentucky, they were told that four volunteers were needed to give up their seats for standby United employees, who needed to be in Louisville on Monday for a flight. She said they were told the flight wouldn’t depart until the employees were seated.
United spokesman Charlie Hobart said airline employees named four customers who had to leave the plane, and that three of them did so. He said law enforcement was called when the fourth person refused to get off the plane.
We followed the right procedures. That plane had to depart. We wanted to get our customers to their destinations, and when one gentleman refused to get off the aircraft, we had to call the Chicago Police Department.
Bridges said passengers were told a computer selected four people to leave the flight. One couple was selected who left the plane before the man was confronted.
“Everyone was shocked and appalled,” Bridges said. “There were several children on the flight as well who were very upset.”
The use of force on a passenger in such a manner is not common. A flight attendant tweeted saying:
Hobart said he didn’t know how the airline compensated the passengers who were forced to deplane. Bridges said the airline offered $800 and a hotel stay.