United Airlines’ CEO, Oscar Munoz, sent an email to his employees on Monday, commending them for following established procedures when a passenger was dragged off the plane due to an overbooked flight, Time reports. He also placed the blame on the passenger, whom he said was being “disruptive and belligerent.”
United Airlines CEO: Passenger removed from flight was 'disruptive and belligerent' https://t.co/e1PIt3ON4L
— TIME (@TIME) April 11, 2017
United Airlines has been facing online outrage since Monday after a video of a passenger being forcibly removed off United flight 3411 was uploaded online and then went viral. The video shows the passenger screaming at the top of his lungs as an officer pulled him off his seat and dragged him off the Louisville-bound plane just before take-off at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The man sustained injuries to the head when he hit an armrest while being forcibly removed.
In a second video, the passenger claimed he was a doctor who desperately wants to return to his patients at the hospital Monday morning.
— GQ Magazine (@GQMagazine) April 10, 2017
“This situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help,” United Airlines wrote in an email to employees, as reported by CNBC. “Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you.”
United Airlines’ first statement was posted on Monday, apologizing for having to “re-accommodate these customers,” and then calling the unfortunate incident an “upsetting event.”
“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United,” Munoz said. “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”
The United Airlines scandal continues to receive backlash on social media, with many vowing to never use the services of the beleaguered airline again.
A spokesperson for United explained the Flight 3411 incident in a statement Monday morning.
“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate,” the statement said. “We apologize for the overbook situation.”
Audra Bridges, a Flight 3411 passenger who uploaded the viral video, told the Courier-Journal United Airlines announced that the flight was overbooked before take-off, and said that four passengers are needed to volunteer to transfer to a later flight to make room for four United employees who needed to get to Louisville by Monday.
Bridges said United offered $400 and free hotel accommodations for one volunteer. When no one responded to the offer, they doubled the offer to $800. United Airlines then randomly selected passengers, and when one of them refused to leave his seat, they called the Chicago police to have him forcibly removed from the plane.
The Chicago Aviation Department suspended the officer who dragged the passenger from his seat and left him with a split lip, as reported by DNA Info. The unidentified officer was placed on leave Monday, “pending a thorough review” of the incident, according to Aviation Department spokeswoman Karen Pride.
“The incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department,” she said.
Before the Aviation Department announced that one of the officers didn’t follow normal procedures, the Chicago Police Department said that the passenger became “irate” as soon as he was asked to remove himself from the plane.
Police said the passenger was taken to Lutheran General Hospital for treatment. His injuries were declared non-threatening.
[Featured Image by Richard Drew/AP Images]