United Airlines admitted on Tuesday that Sunday’s flight from Chicago, Illinois, to Louisville, Kentucky, was not technically overbooked. This particular flight in question has created quite the controversy for United Airlines after one passenger, identified as Dr. David Dao from Kentucky, was physically hauled from his seat because he wouldn’t leave voluntarily.
At the time, passengers were told the United Airlines flight was overbooked, and four passengers would have to leave. However, a United Airlines spokeswoman, Megan McCarthy, said on Tuesday that Sunday’s flight wasn’t exactly overbooked. Seats were simply needed for four United Airlines crew members. McCarthy also added on Wednesday that all passengers who witnessed Dr. David Dao’s removal from the flight would be compensated in cash, travel credits, or miles equal to the cost of their tickets, according to Business Insider.
“All customers on flight 3411 from Sunday, April 9 are receiving compensation for the cost of their tickets.”
The New York Times reported just one day after Dr. David Dao was “violently” dragged from his paid United Airlines seat that while it’s not uncommon for airlines to overbook flights, Dr. Dao’s flight was not overbooked, adding that McCarthy “backtracked” on a previous statement by United Airlines claiming the flight on Sunday had been overbooked. The report goes on to say that passengers typically volunteer to leave a flight when seats are needed in lieu of compensation and a later flight.
When asked to volunteer, Dr. David Dao, 69, reportedly refused to give up his seat on Sunday’s United Airlines flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, as previously reported by People Magazine. Dr. Dao’s refusal ultimately led to aviation officials forcibly removing him from his seat, an incident that was caught on video and “disgusted” other passengers.
According to USA Today, United Airlines “insisted the flight was overbooked and that it had no choice but to contact authorities when the man refused to leave.”
Although Dr. David Dao gave a reason for refusing to exit the flight, saying he had to “work tomorrow,” Chicago Department of Aviation officials still dragged him from his seat and through the aisle, throwing him against an armrest, as shown by video footage.
“One customer refused to do that [volunteer] after we had explained the situation and apologized and let that customer know what we were gonna do on his behalf to get that customer to where he needed to be. He still refused, at which point we had to involve the Chicago Police Department.”
Heavy shared the now-viral video of Dr. David Dao being dragged down the aisle of the United Airlines flight on Sunday, saying that the video has “sparked great outrage” and that United Airlines has since released several statements trying to manage the public relations mess. Horrified United Airlines passengers can be heard in the background saying, “Look at what you’re doing.”
Sunday’s incident has social media in an uproar, with Facebook users trolling the United Airlines Facebook page, even after United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz issued a public statement on Tuesday offering his “deepest apologies for what happened.”
Some comments, however, defended United Airlines, saying that the flight crew is a priority, while other comments say that there were other ways to get the four United Airlines crew members to Louisville, rather than asking paid customers to give up their seats on flight 3411.
Compensating “repulsed” United Airlines customers may not fix what’s become a “publicity nightmare” for United Airlines. However, according to CNN, customers agree to be selected for removal from flights, based on certain criteria, when seats are needed, a policy that’s often overlooked, and a policy that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says “needs to be suspended.”
“Passengers who have paid the fare for their ticket and reserved a seat should not be subject to this arbitrary ‘bumping’ except in the most extreme of circumstances and certainly not to accommodate employees of United Airlines,” wrote Christie on Tuesday in a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]