United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has issued an apology for the headline-making incident in which security dragged a male passenger from an overbooked flight from Chicago to Louisville Sunday, April 9. Watch what happened in the video above.
“I want you to know that we take full responsibility, and we will work to make it right,” Munoz said in a statement Tuesday, calling the episode “truly horrific,” per CNN Money. “I promise you we will do better.”
As previously reported, the airline needed to fit four crew members on the flight, but since there were no seats available, they offered customers compensation and a free hotel stay if they volunteered to get on a flight the next day. However, no one volunteered and United was forced to choose four passengers at random. Footage of the incident showed a male passenger screaming and being forcibly removed from the airplane. He appeared to be bleeding from the mouth and was then dragged by his feet down the aisle and off the aircraft. The aggressive display went viral and sparked outrage.
Though he apologized Tuesday, Munoz emailed all United employees Monday, April 10, saying that he stood behind the crew members’ actions. According to the letter obtained by CNBC, when United personnel asked the passenger to leave, he “raised his voice and refused to comply.” Every time they asked him to get off the plane, “he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.”
According to several passengers’ accounts, the customer was a doctor who said he needed to remain on the flight to treat patients in Louisville the next morning.
Munoz also posted a public apology on United’s Twitter Monday. “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers,” he said. “Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with 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.” The statement was hit with major backlash for its lack of remorse and use of the word “re-accommodate” to describe the violent situation.