United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz is standing behind his staff after security dragged a male passenger from an overbooked flight from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday, April 9. Watch what happened in the video above.
The airline needed to squeeze four crew members on the flight, but since there were no available seats, they offered compensation and a hotel stay if anyone was willing to volunteer to take a flight the following day. When no one volunteered, they 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 from the aircraft.
After the appalling video went viral, Munoz emailed all United employees on Monday, April 10, saying that he supported 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 exit the plane, “he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.” According to fellow passengers’ accounts, the customer was a doctor and tried to explain that he needed to get to Louisville to see his patients in the morning.
United staff “were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight,” he wrote, adding that the passenger “continued to resist — running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.”
While saying United could learn from the incident, he wrote, “I emphatically stand behind all of you.”
Munoz also issued a public apology on United’s Twitter on 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 caused major backlash on social media for its lack of apology and use of the word “re-accommodate” to describe the violent situation.