United Airlines forcefully evicts passenger: Everything you need to know

United Airlines controversy: A video posted on social media showed police officers grabbing the man from a window seat, yanking him from across the armrest and dragging him down the aircraft's aisle by his arms.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: April 11, 2017 1:16 pm
United airlines, United airlines controversy, United Airlines passenger, United airlines latest news, United airlines doctor, United airlines doctor beaten, United airlines news, United airlines overbooked flight, United airlines flight, US news, World news, Indian express news United Airlines controversy: FILE – In this Sept. 8, 2015, file photo, a United Airlines passenger plane lands at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. United said on Monday, March 27, 2017, that regular-paying fliers are welcome to wear leggings aboard its flights, even though two teenage girls were barred by a gate agent from boarding a flight from Denver to Minneapolis Sunday because of their attire. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

United Airlines received a lot flak on social media after it found itself at the centre of a controversy when it forcefully dragged a passenger from one of their flights primarily due to overbooking. The airline said their employees had no choice but to remove the man after he refused to give up his seat on a flight bound for Louisville, Kentucky, from Chicago on Sunday. The airline was apparently trying to accommodate four employees of a partner airline on the flight to Louisville, Kentucky.

What happened on board United Airlines flight?

Once the airline announced that four customers have to get off the plane, three passengers disembarked but the fourth person refused to move, said United spokesperson Charlie Hobart. This is when the police was called and led to the incident. The company issued a statement in the media saying it had asked volunteers to leave the overbooked plane and when one customers refused to leave voluntarily, law enforcement was called in to redress the situation, Hobart was quoted as saying by the Chicago Tribune newspaper. When the manager went on board to resolve the situation, the aggrieved passenger was heard telling him that he is a doctor and needed to see patients in the morning, according to Bridges. Just after this, when two officers tried to reason with the passenger a third person came on board and reportedly told the man that he has to get off the plane. That’s when the altercation took place.

A video posted on social media showed police officers grabbing the man from a window seat, yanking him from across the armrest and dragging him down the aircraft’s aisle by his arms. The man begins to scream while being dragged out, as several passengers express shock and horror. With blood in his mouth and chin, the man was seen standing near the aisle at the end of the aircraft saying, “I want to go home.”

Passengers react

While some passengers recorded the event, others on board Flight 3411 were heard saying: “Please, my God,” “What are you doing?” “This is wrong,” and “Look at what you did to him” among other things. One passenger can be heard saying: “Oh my God, look at what you did to him!” Another passenger Tyler Bridges told the Associated Press that the airline had offered to give $400 and then $800 vouches aside from a hotel accommodation for volunteers who give up their seats. After no one volunteered, a United official boarded the plane and announced that passengers will be chosen randomly. In a statement to AP, Bridges said, “We almost felt like we were being taken hostage. We were stuck there. You can’t do anything as a traveler. You’re relying on the airline.”

What happened after the passenger was offloaded?

Moments after, the four airline officials boarded the plane. When they did, according to Bridges, some people on the plane were heard saying, “You should be ashamed to work for this company.” Shortly after, the offloaded passengers showed up on the aircraft again when some officers followed him to the back of the plane. In a video that emerged today, the passenger can be heard saying, “Just kill me” multiple times as she stands near the rear end of the aircraft.

Around this time, another passenger who was travelling with high school students said they were de-boarding, said Bridges. Nearly half of the passengers followed him before the airline told everyone to get off with United making an announcement that they have to ‘tidy up’ the aircraft.

‘United’ starts trending on Twitter, Facebook and Google

The fiasco on board the aircraft stirred social media outrage at the airlines’ conduct as the term ‘United’ started trending on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google. This was just the second incident to draw bad press for the airline after a late March episode where two teenage girls were denied boarding a Denver flight just because they wore leggings. Back then, the airline defended its action saying the girls were flying on passes that require them to abide by a dress code in return for free or discounted travel.

What was United Airlines response?

CEO of United Airlines’ parent company Oscar Munoz described the entire event as “upsetting” and apologized for “having to re-accommodate these customers.” He also added that the airline was conducting a review to “further address and resolve this situation.”

What the law says?

According to federal regulations, US airlines are not prevented from selling off more seats than a flight can accommodate. This practice, the airline industry says allows US carriers to fill up planes inspite of numerous no-shows they can expect on any given flight. In essence, US airlines are allowed to involuntarily bump passengers off overbooked flights, with compensation, if enough volunteers cannot be found, according to the US Department of Transportation.

What was the aftermath of the episode?

According to the Associated Press, one officer who was involved in the incident was placed on leave.

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