clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

United Airlines passenger dragged off overbooked flight

A United Airlines Express jet takes off from Pittsburgh International Airport, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
A United Airlines Express jet takes off from Pittsburgh International Airport, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar, AP

A recent video that shows a United Airlines passenger getting forcibly removed from the plane right before it took off attracted a lot of national media attention on Monday.

As The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, reported, the video, which was posted at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday by another passenger, Audra D. Bridges, shows three men dressed security outfits with radio equipment talking with a man in his seat. Seconds roll by and then the men grab the passenger and drag him off the plane.

"Footage shows the man was bleeding from the mouth as they dragged him away. His glasses were askew and his shirt was riding up over his belly," NPR reported.

A United spokesperson told the Journal that the man had been removed from the plane because of overbooking.

"Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked," said the spokesperson. "After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate,” the spokesperson said. “We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities."

United also tweeted out a statement from company CEO Oscar Munoz on the incident on Twitter.

According to Journal, airline passengers were told the flight had been overbooked, but that United would pay them $400 and a one-night hotel stay to get off the flight. No one volunteered to get off, so the pilot said people would be selected at random.

The airline asked one couple off the plane.

The man seen in the video became upset when asked to leave the plan, since he was a doctor who had patients to see, the Journal reported.

"Everyone was shocked and appalled," Bridges said. "There were several children on the flight as well that were very upset."

Critics also pointed out how United’s mission statement doesn’t apply to this incident.

The incident inspired so much attention that the term “volunteer” became widely searched, too.

Former Continental CEO Gordon Bethune called the incident “immature” and hopes that United will issue a formal apology, according to CNBC.

The incident offers bad publicity for all airlines, too, Andy Swan, the founder of social media monitor LikeFolio, told CNBC.

"The thing about airlines is they have a low happiness level to begin with," he said.

United made headlines last month when it refused to let two girls travel because they were wearing leggings. The two girls had been traveling with a guest pass. United said its policy prohibits passengers from wearing leggings.

"Like most companies, we have a dress code that we ask employees and pass riders to follow" United said in a statement, according to Time magazine. "To our regular customers, your leggings are welcome."