A video posted on Facebook late Sunday evening shows a passenger on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville being forcibly removed from the plane before takeoff at O’Hare International Airport.
The video, posted by Audra D. Bridges at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, is taken from an aisle seat on a commercial airplane that appears to be preparing to take flight. The 31-second clip shows three men wearing radio equipment and security jackets speaking with a man seated on the plane. After a few seconds, one of the men grabs the passenger, who screams, and drags him by his arms toward the front of the plane. The video ends before anything else is shown.
A United spokesperson confirmed in an email Sunday night that a passenger had been taken off a flight in Chicago.
“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked,” the spokesperson said. “After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate.
“We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.”
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VIDEO: Man dragged off overbooked United flight
VIDEO: What we know about a passenger being removed from a United flight
Bridges, a Louisville resident, gave her account of the flight Sunday night.
Passengers were told at the gate that the flight was overbooked and United, offering $400 and a hotel stay, was looking for one volunteer to take another flight to Louisville at 3 p.m. Monday. Passengers were allowed to board the flight, Bridges said, and once the flight was filled those on the plane were told that four people needed to give up their seats to stand-by United employees that needed to be in Louisville on Monday for a flight. Passengers were told that the flight would not take off until the United crew had seats, Bridges said, and the offer was increased to $800, but no one volunteered.
Then, she said, a manager came aboard the plane and said a computer would select four people to be taken off the flight. One couple was selected first and left the airplane, she said, before the man in the video was confronted.
On Monday, United released a statement from CEO Oscar Munoz: “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. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”
Bridges said the man became “very upset” and said that he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning. The manager told him that security would be called if he did not leave willingly, Bridges said, and the man said he was calling his lawyer. One security official came and spoke with him, and then another security officer came when he still refused. Then, she said, a third security official came on the plane and threw the passenger against the armrest before dragging him out of the plane.
The man was able to get back on the plane after initially being taken off – his face was bloody and he seemed disoriented, Bridges said, and he ran to the back of the plane. Passengers asked to get off the plane as a medical crew came on to deal with the passenger, she said, and passengers were then told to go back to the gate so that officials could “tidy up” the plane before taking off.
Bridges said the man shown in the video was the only person who was forcibly removed.
“Everyone was shocked and appalled,” Bridges said. “There were several children on the flight as well that were very upset.”
The flight was delayed around two hours before it could fly to Louisville, and it arrived in Kentucky later Sunday night. No update was given to the passengers about the condition of the man forcibly removed, Bridges said.
The Chicago Department of Aviation said Monday afternoon that it had placed the security officer who pulled the man out of his seat on leave pending a “thorough review” of the situation.
The aviation department said in an emailed statement that the incident wasn’t in accordance with its standard operating procedure and the officer’s actions “are obviously not condoned by the Department.”
The department confirmed that all three men who were seen on video talking to the man who was removed from the flight were aviation security officers.
A video posted on Facebook late Sunday evening shows a passenger on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville being forcibly removed from the plane before takeoff at O’Hare International Airport. Scott Utterback/Courier-Journal
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United CEO Oscar Munoz
United CEO doubles down in email to employees, says passenger was ‘disruptive and belligerent’
- In an email to employees, United CEO Oscar Munoz addressed an incident in which an overbooked passenger had to be forcibly removed from a United plane.
- Passenger described as “disruptive and belligerent.”
- Munoz: “I emphatically stand behind all of you.”
United CEO Oscar Munoz doubled down in a letter to employees on Monday evening, claiming that employees “followed established procedures” when removing a passenger from a plane because it was overbooked, and calling the passenger “disruptive and belligerent.”
United had to ask several passengers who had already boarded a flight from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday evening to leave, as the airline had sold too many tickets. One man refused to leave, and United called airport officials, who forcibly removed him from the plane.
Video circulated of the incident earlier in the day, showing the man being dragged from the plane and later returning with blood on his face. The incident drew scorn on Twitter and other social media, especially when Munoz used the euphemism “re-accomodate” in a public statement to describe the customers booted from the flight.
According to the letter, which was obtained by CNBC, when crew members first approached the passenger to tell him to leave, he “raised his voice and refused to comply,” and each time they asked again “he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.”
Crew members “were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight,” Munoz wrote, and at one point the passenger “continued to resist – running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.”
Munoz acknowledged to employees that the company could learn lessons from the incident, but said: “I emphatically stand behind all of you.”
Here’s the video, which went viral earlier today:
Tags: O’Hare International Airport, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily, re-accomodate, shows a passenger being forcibly removed from the plane, United Airlines, United airlines drags passenger off flight, United CEO Oscar Munoz, United Criticized for Dragging Passenger From Plane