United Airlines: Passenger dragged off overbooked flight


Team Udayavani, Apr 11, 2017, 5:29 PM IST

Chicago (USA): A passenger’s refusal to give up his seat on an overbooked flight led the airline security officers to violently drag him off the Louisville, Kentucky-bound United flight 3411 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

The airline was trying to make room for four of its employees on the Sunday evening flight to Louisville, Kentucky.

Passenger Audra D Bridges posted the video on Facebook. Her husband, Tyler Bridges, said United offered $US400 and then $US800 in vouchers and a hotel stay for volunteers to give up their seats.

When no-one volunteered, a United manager came on the plane and announced passengers would be chosen at random.

“We almost felt like we were being taken hostage,” Mr Bridges said.

When airline employees named four customers who had to leave the plane, three of them did so. The fourth person refused to move, and police were called, United spokesman Charlie Hobart said.

Several other passengers too have recorded the incident on their phones and posted video on social media.

After the passenger was removed, the four United employees boarded the plane.

A few minutes, the man who was removed from the plane returned, looking dazed and saying he had to get home, Mr Bridges said.

Officers followed him to the back of the plane.

Another man travelling with high school students stood up at that point and said they were getting off the plane, according to Mr Bridges and about half of the passengers followed before United told everyone to get off.

The man who was dragged down the aisle was removed from the plane again, and United employees made an announcement saying they had to “tidy up” the aircraft, Mr Bridges said.

Mr Bridges’ wife told him she saw the man taken away on a stretcher and after a three-hour delay the flight took off without the man aboard.

Oscar Munoz, chief executive of United Airlines’ parent company, described the event as “upsetting” and apologised for “having to re-accommodate these customers”.

He said the airline was conducting a review and reaching out to the passenger to “further address and resolve this situation”.

In a letter sent to United employees, Mr Munoz said while he regretted the incident had occurred he “emphatically” stood behind his staff.

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