Published on Tuesday, April 11, 2017

United in social media backlash after dragging doctor from plane

United Airlines has come under a barrage of criticism for the way a paying passenger was forcibly removed from his seat so a member of staff could travel in it.

The man was one of four people randomly selected to get off the flight from Chicago O'Hare airport to Louisville on Sunday evening.

He refused, so was pulled out of his seat and dragged along the aisle by three burly security guards.

Shortly before take-off, United asked for volunteers to give up their seats to make way for four members of United Airlines' crew, who were required in Louisville.

Passengers were offered $400 and a hotel stay if they would take a flight the following day, but no-one came forward, so the offer was doubled to $800.

Still no-one came forward, so four passengers were chosen at random.

The man, who was travelling with his wife and was already strapped in his seat, told cabin crew he was a doctor and had patients to treat the next day.

Back up was called and three officers were filmed pulling the man from his seat, bashing his head against an arm rest and dragging him down the aisle with blood coming from his mouth.

Passengers said they were distressed by the scene and children were crying as the man screamed while he was being manhandled.

After being removed from the aircraft, the man apparently broke free from the guards and ran back on board with a bloody face, saying 'I have to go home'.

The plane took off two hours later.

United Airlines said: "Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. 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."

Airline spokesman Charlie Hobart added:~"We followed the right procedures. That plane had to depart."

It is the second time United Airlines has been criticised on social media over policy in two weeks.

A fortnight ago, TravelMole reported the airline was the subject of a social media storm when two teenage girls were not allowed to board because they were wearing leggings.

United chief executive Oscar Munoz made the following statement last night: "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."

A letter from Munoz to his employees at United was later published online, in which the airline boss said he 'stands behind' all the company's staff.

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  • Why were staff more important than passenger

    Apart from the appalling method of removal of the passenger, I fail to see why United imagine their staff need to get to another airport was more important than a passenger's need to be in their booked seats. This doctor in particular had patients to treat. They must have known before boarding that there were no available seats. It should never be considered a solution to pick passengers at random & remove them from their legitimate seats. Keep upping the compensation offered and someone will take the carrot.

    By Sylvia Cook, Wednesday, April 12, 2017

  • Third World Airline

    You could imagine such actions in the 3rd world but in a civilised country? I think not. Munoz had better wake up and say something more meaningful. This will be in my mind for some time to come.

    By William Staines, Tuesday, April 11, 2017

  • After dragging Chinese doctor from plane

    United now being accused of racial profiling...What ever happened to Pan Am...United could go the same way...

    By Terry McManus, Tuesday, April 11, 2017

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