United Airlines Viral Video Shows Overbooking At Its Worst: Will Justice Be Served? [Opinion]

A United Airlines viral video caused outcry on social media after the footage revealed how a passenger was beaten to a pulp for refusing to leave the plane in a classic case of airline overbooking.

On Monday, a video of a man who was forcibly removed from his seat on United Flight 3411 became viral online, resulting in one airline security officer to be placed on mandatory leave pending a probe by the Department of Transportation.

The passenger, who appears to be of Asian descent, was being dragged from his seat by men wearing police jackets, bumping him and his wife off a flight from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky, on Sunday.

After different angles of the incident surfaced online, social media users jumped in to criticize how the matter was handled poorly.


What makes things a whole lot worse is that despite being at fault as seen in the United Airlines viral video, the airline’s head security officer decided not to apologize for the incident.

Citing Reuters, an article from Fortune revealed that United Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz is not planning to apologize to the passenger because he “defied” the security officers sent to the scene.

“We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation),” Munoz’s letter read.

“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.”

But while the airline’s CEO is stern with his position and “emphatically” supports his employees, the Chicago Department of Aviation decided that one officer did not follow protocol and had been put on mandatory leave as they investigate the matter thoroughly.

The actions of the security personnel seen on the United Airlines viral video are already questionable. However, this incident brings to light one more issue that has plagued the airlines for so long: overbooking.

According to an article from Wired,overbooking is beneficial for everyone “in a sense” as they ask Cranky Concierge travel agency owner Brett Snyder to explain why this is.

“It’s all about trying to maximize the revenue they bring in, and part of that is making sure there’s a butt in every seat,” Snyder said.

“When you have fewer butts in seats, the fares need to be higher to cover all the costs that involved.”

But while the outlet agrees with the businessman, it also highlights a fallout: the passenger bargaining. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), bumping passengers through passenger bargaining is legal, although there remains a matter of civility as to how it should be handled.

“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 statement from the DOT stated.

But what happened to the poor man in the United Airlines viral video? Frankly, it was the worst passenger bargaining ever. As seen on the footage, the security personnel weren’t very good at passenger bargaining and decided to use violence instead.

On top of that, the CEO of the airlines seem to have lost all sense of humility by refusing to apologize for the apparent misconduct that severely reeks of racial discrimination. This just makes United passengers feel like they are characters in the Hunger Games– waiting for their name to be called from a bowl to be randomly ejected from the flight they paid for.


Like one tweeter posted: Pepsi already delivered a highly insensitive commercial with their Kendall Jenner ad but the airlines win the worst PR situation after the United Airlines viral video emerged.


A small consolation is the change of heart the airline’s CEO experienced, finally seeing the light and apologized to the passengers albeit in a statement crafted to suit their PR needs.

“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. 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,” United CEO Munoz said in a statement cited by CNBC.


Is it enough? Only the victim seen in the United Airlines viral video can answer that. Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]