United Airlines was caught in a social media firestorm after a passenger on one of its overbooked flights was filmed being dragged from the plane.
The airline needed to fly four of its staff members to a connection and decided to throw off four passengers from Flight 3411, from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, to make space for the staff.
Some of the passengers told the media that, United Airlines asked customers to voluntarily give up their seats on the overbooked flight. When no one volunteered, the airline began randomly selecting passengers to remove from their seats.
The man in question was selected but refused to leave, claiming he was a doctor who needed to get to work to see patients the next day. That’s when the officers were called in to remove him. The incident took place on the United flight 3411 on April 9 from Chicago to Louisville.
A spokesman for United initially said that they followed the right procedures as the plane had to depart. Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines’ parent company, apologized first in a written statement and then in a letter to employees on Monday evening.
Mr. Munoz said he was upset to see and hear about what happened at O’Hare. He added, however, that the man dragged off the plane had ignored requests by crew members to leave and became “disruptive and belligerent,” making it necessary to call airport police.
The aviation security officer who dragged the passenger from the plane has been placed on leave. The officer – one of three involved in the Sunday night incident – did not follow protocol, according to a statement from the Chicago Department of Aviation, and as a result has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation. The Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement on Monday that the incident was not in accordance with their standard operating procedure.