A video was posted on Facebook Sunday night of a man that United Airlines had forcibly removed from a plane. The passenger was on a flight from Chicago to Louisville when the incident occurred, the Courier-Journal reports. He was removed by security officers before the plane took off at O’Hare International Airport.
The video surfaced online after Louisville resident Audra D. Bridges posted the footage at 7:30 p.m. The video shows what appears to be the view from an aisle seat on a commercial jet that is preparing to take flight.
Bridge’s post asks, “Please share this video. We are on this flight. United airlines overbooked the flight. They randomly selected people to kick off so their standby crew could have a seat. This man is a doctor and has to be at the hospital in the morning. He did not want to get off. We are all shaky and so disgusted.”
United let passengers know at the gate on Sunday night that the flight they were on was overbooked. They asked for a volunteer to take a later flight at 3 p.m. on Monday. They offered to give whoever volunteered $400 and a hotel stay for their troubles.
When no one took United Airlines up on their offer, all of the passengers were allowed to board, and the flight was filled. Everyone was then told that four people would need to relinquish their seats to a standby crew of United Airlines employees destined for Louisville. The crew, they were told, needed to be in Louisville that Monday for a flight.
Passengers were informed that the flight would not depart until all four crew members had a seat. United Airlines tried to sweeten the deal by increasing the original $400 compensation to $800.
No Volunteers Equaled a Forced Deplaning
No one volunteered to exit the plane after the new offer, and a manager then boarded the plane. The passengers were told that four people would be randomly selected by a computer to exit the flight. After the computer selection took place, a couple was picked, and they exited the plane. Shortly after that, the situation escalated when a solo passenger, who is featured in the video, was approached. He refused to leave after United’s request.
The man became extremely agitated, according to Bridges, stating that “he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning.” The manager informed him that airport security would be called to handle the situation if he did not voluntarily leave. After he was told this, Bridges said the man responded by telling the United Airlines representative that he would be calling his attorney.
The Situation Worsens
Two security officials spoke with the passenger, and he refused to exit. When a third security official boarded, he threw the man against an armrest and dragged him to the front of the plane. There is a 31-second session in the Facebook video that Bridges posted that captures the three security officers forcibly removing the passenger. The video ends as they drag him toward the front of the plane.
The passenger was allowed back on the plane after security took him off.
According to Bridges, “His face was bloody and he seemed disoriented. And he ran to the back of the plane.”
United Airlines Attempts to Defuse the Online Controversy
Sunday night, a spokesperson for United confirmed that a passenger had been taken off that flight. The situation generated some buzz and controversy on Twitter as United managed to get Reddit and YouTube to remove the video.
United Airlines is pleased to announce new seating on all domestic flights- in addition to United First and Economy Plus we introduce.... pic.twitter.com/KQjPClU2d2— McNeil (@Reflog_18) April 10, 2017
Today, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz had this to say.
“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate thse 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.”
United finds itself in an unpopular PR situation, and according to Business Insider, the security officer who dragged the passenger off the plane has been placed on leave.
Situations such as this one call attention to the airline industry’s tendency to overbook flights. In fact, passengers are often bounced from their flight in exchange for cash or travel vouchers, and some of them become understandably agitated. It remains to be seen if this particular passenger will end up taking legal action against United Airlines for injuries he received during the incident.
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]