Update: According to TMZ, United CEO Oscar Munoz emailed all employees on Monday, April 10, after the video of a passenger being forcibly pulled off the aircraft went viral. In his email, Munoz reportedly said the crew “sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation)” before the ordeal occurred. According to TMZ, the flight was overbooked by four people and per Munoz’s email, passengers needed to be “re-accommodated.”
“When we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions,” Munoz’s email reportedly read. TMZ reports that while Munoz supports the actions of crew members, he added that “there are lessons we can learn.”
The Chicago Department of Aviation has since suspended the officer who forcibly lifted the passenger.
Original story continues below:
United Airlines security forcibly removed a male passenger from an overbooked flight on Sunday, April 9. The appalling videos (which can be seen above) of the incident have since gone viral on social media, prompting the airline to issue an apology.
As seen in clips shared by several passengers aboard Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville, three members of the airline’s security team surround an unidentified man seated on the plane. The passenger begins to scream as one of the guards grab him and drag him by his arms toward the front of the plane.
Other passengers are heard begging the security team to stop dragging the man. “My god, what are you doing?” one woman yells. “No, this is wrong! Look at what you did to him!” In one video, the passenger appears to be bleeding from his mouth as he is removed.
“Please share this video. We are on this flight,” passenger Audra D. Bridges captioned her Facebook video of the incident. “United airlines overbooked this flight. They randomly selected people to kick off so their standby crew could have a seat. This man is a doctor and has to be at the hospital in the morning. He did not want to get off. We are all shaky and so disgusted.”
Bridges also shared her account with the Louisville Courier-Journal. She told the outlet that passengers were informed at the gate that the flight was overbooked and United was offering $400 and a hotel stay to one person to volunteer to take a later flight on Monday afternoon. After the plane filled up, members of the United crew told passengers that the flight would not take off until they had seats available, and they increased the offer to $800.
Bridges said a manager then came aboard the plane and told everyone that a computer would randomly select four people to be removed from the flight. After removing a couple from the plane, the crew confronted the male passenger, who became “very upset,” according to Bridges, and insisted he needed to see patients at the hospital in the morning. The manager informed the man that he would call security if he did not willingly leave, and the man threatened to call his lawyer.
After the man was forcibly removed, he was permitted to return on the plane. Bridges said his face was bloody and he appeared disoriented as the medical crew tended to him. The flight was delayed for approximately two hours as a result of the scuffle.
On Monday, April 10, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz issued an apology. “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers,” he said in a statement on United’s Twitter. “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.”
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