A shock wave of criticism for United Airlines has erupted worldwide since Sunday night’s released footage of security officers dragging a man of Chinese descent, wounded and unconscious, off of a flight that was said to be overbooked.
According to a report from USA Today’s Courier-Journal, four employees needed to board the overbooked flight, and authorities requested for passengers to volunteer to leave. They would be accommodated with $800 and a ticket for the next day’s flight.
Passenger Tyler Bridges on an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson states:
“No one wanted to volunteer to get off the plane because the next flight wasn’t until 2 p.m. the next day.”
After randomly picking four unlucky fliers to leave, United requested that Dr. David Dao be one of them. Dao refused, saying that he had patients he needed to see the next morning. Then things began to get more violent. According to Bridges, the officers initially handled the situation well:
“They tried to reason with the man; they were real calm. They went about it in a good way, and he just would not reason with them. He was committed to not getting off the plane.”
When Carlson questioned Dao’s behavior, Bridges responded:
“He was yelling at them. He was trying to fend them off the best he could. I guess he felt like he had to do whatever he could to try and stay on the plane.”
After Dao’s continued refusal to comply with the airline’s request, they brought in a third security officer, who ultimately dragged him, shrieking, from his seat. The video clearly depicts Dao in bad shape, with witnessing passengers in great distress One woman in particular seems deeply affected by the officers’ treatment of the man:
“This isn’t right! Look at what you did to him!”
Another passenger points out in horror as Dao passes by that the officers “busted his lip.”
United CEO Oscar Munoz initially responded by defending his staff for following protocol, and deemed the passenger “disruptive and belligerent.” In a letter to his employees, he even commended them:
“While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.”
However, after receiving massive global criticism for his statement, he sent out a more apologetic message on Tuesday:
— United (@united) April 11, 2017
The airline now faces possible legal charges as the story gains national attention. Congresswoman Elanor Holmes Norton expressed her disapproval of the airline’s conduct, and demanded that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hold an official hearing:
“The only information available has been that perhaps $800 was offered to leave the flight. Federal rules require airlines to give passengers four times their fare or up to $1,250 if they are bumped from an overbooked flight.”
United Airlines has gained mounds of negative attention from around the world for the debacle. What do you think? Let us know in the comments if security officers were justified in their response to the stubborn passenger, or if Dao himself is justified in standing for his rights.
CNN Money has reported that the CEO of United has apologized:
Munoz pledged a full review by April 30 “to fix what’s broken so this never happens again.”
“I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right,” Munoz said in a statement on Tuesday. “I promise you we will do better.”
It was his third attempt to quell growing outrage after a passenger was removed, bloodied and screaming, from a flight that was to take off from Chicago for Louisville, Kentucky, on Sunday night. United (UAL) wanted to give seats to commuting crew members.