CHICAGO — United Airlines is facing a PR disaster after footage of a bloodied passenger being forcibly removed from a flight went viral.
The man was dragged from his seat as the plane sat on the tarmac in Chicago on Sunday, bound for Louisville, Kentucky.
It all kicked off when United needed to get four staff members to Louisville, but then realized the flight was already full and no seats were available, NPR reported.
Passengers who volunteered to give up their seats and take a later flight were offered $400 in compensation and a free hotel stay. But even when that offer was doubled to $800 there were still no takers.
That’s when United decided to choose the volunteers themselves, and four passengers were randomly bumped from the plane.
One couple left the airplane without incident, but the man in the video refused. He said he was a doctor and needed to get back to Louisville to see his patients.
United staff told the man that security would be called if he didn’t get off the plane. Again he refused and that’s when things got physical.
While this incident was undoubtedly brutal, United are within their legal rights to overbook flights and to remove passengers from their planes. They just have to pay compensation of up to $1,350, depending on the length of the delay.
Ten minutes later, the passenger ran back on the plane, looking confused.
Eventually, all the passengers were made to deboard and go back to the gate while the plane was cleaned up. The plane eventually arrived in Louisville two hours late.
In a statement, United Airlines apologized for what they described as an overbooing situation, but didn’t say sorry to the passenger who was dragged from his seat.
In an email to staff on Monday, United CEO Oscar Munoz said the man was “disruptive and belligerent.”
The Chicago Department of Aviation said the security officer who dragged the passenger out of his seat has been put on leave, pending an investigation.
Many passengers called for a boycott of United online, using the hashtag #BoycottUnitedAirlines