United Airlines CEO blames passenger’s ‘belligerence’ for violent assault

The biggest story of the day on Monday was the absolutely appalling story of United Airlines forcibly and violently removing a paying customer off of a flight to Louisville. United overbooked the flight and they were looking to put four crew members on this flight, so they asked for “volunteers” – people who would agree to deboard and take another flight. No one volunteered. So United decided to call the Chicago Aviation Security Officers and those officers violently assaulted and dragged a 69-year-old man off the plane. The other passengers took videos of the assault:

I dislike covering these kinds of “human interest” stories because they’re just sad and horrible and obviously the overwhelming majority of people will just react to this situation with a “My God, that’s disgusting,” or “that guy should sue the sh-t out of everyone involved.” But I’m covering it because… United Airlines is awful and they’ve reacted to this incident horribly. Check out what United CEO Oscar Munoz had to say:

In an email to employees on Monday, the United Airlines CEO faulted a passenger who was forcibly removed and dragged from an overbooked flight for being “disruptive and belligerent.” The airline faced a wave of backlash on Monday, after videos showed officers dragging the passenger off United flight 3411 because it had been overbooked. The man also sustained injuries to head when he struck an armrest while being carried out.

“This situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help,” CEO Oscar Munoz said in email to employees, reported by CNBC. “Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you.”

In an earlier statement, Munoz apologized for “having to re-accommodate these customers” and called the incident an “upsetting event.” In recounting the sequence of events, Munoz told employees that the passenger “refused” to deplane and “became more and more disruptive and belligerent” and faulted him for “running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.”

One of the officers involved in the incident was placed on leave Monday.

“Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation,” Munoz added in his email to employees.

[From People]

All of the eyewitnesses to the assault – many of whom later walked off the flight in utter disgust – claim that the assault victim was not rude or abrasive or anything. He told United personnel and the security people that he was a doctor and he was needed in Louisville. THEY reacted violently and belligerently, not him. As for the guy running back onto the plane – he had a head injury and he was in shock. Jesus.

Photos courtesy of Getty.

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196 Responses to “United Airlines CEO blames passenger’s ‘belligerence’ for violent assault”

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  1. Shambles says:

    Oh this gives me chills of disgust/rage.

    I get all sorts of uncomfortable when I think about the fact that it just happened to be an Asian man. They didn’t decide to assault any of their white passengers.

    • Maria F. says:

      as far as I read in a different article, they selected 4 volunteers (basically single people, because they were not separating families etc), and 3 others decided to comply. He refused, which I can totally understand. If they have these situation, they have to make them offers they cannot refuse and not just selected passengers at random.

      Not saying there might not be a rascist angle to it…. but that would be in the behaviour of the enforcing police men.

      • Pumpkin Pie says:

        I read on The Guardian or BBC that he was traveling with his wife.

      • Aquamarine says:

        You can’t really ‘select a volunteer’. I read some statement from United I think were they were like ‘We chose four volunteers.’. Well, you can’t choose volunteers. Someone either volunteers out of their own volition or they don’t. If you have to force someone they’re no longer a volunteer.
        And yes, absolutely agree with you saying they should have made them offers they couldn’t refuse (maybe not to the doctor who needed to see his patients the next day but someone else instead). I was once on a flight with a similar situation and they ended up offering a roundtrip ticket to whatever destination you wanted + dinner & a night at a hotel. In addition to paying for the later flight as well obviously.
        Uniteds handling of this incident is absolutely disgusting.
        Oh and as someone else said he was traveling with his wife. You can see her running after the guys dragging him out in the video.

      • Erinn says:

        He was a Dr. who had patients to see the next day.

        They first offered volunteers a $400 voucher, a later flight and a hotel room to leave voluntarily. Nobody took it. They all boarded. They offered the same thing, except an $800 voucher again. Nobody volunteered. They did a ‘lottery’ and one couple complied and left. Then he and his wife were chosen, the wife was likely going to comply, and he said no, because he had appointments the next day, and they wouldn’t be flying out until around 3pm on the later flight. Now I have also heard that both his seat and his wife’s seat were chosen – and they weren’t sitting together – so I found that suspicious. But it might not be wholly factual either, so take that for what you will.

        Watching the video actually made me ill. I was so angry, and so disgusted at how this was handled.

        The other kicker – the airline is allowed to offer up to $1300 for bumping the flight. They stopped at $800. Once he had said no, they should have opened the offers again to the full amount allowed.

        The main issue I have is that they COULD have put those pilots on another flight. They didn’t HAVE to go on that exact plane – they have priority to put them on another flight and it doesn’t have to be a United one from what I understood. Not only that – they KNEW the pilots needed to get somewhere – it wasn’t a last minute decision. Should the man have complied with the airline security? Yes, technically he should have. But that also doesn’t give the airline the right to offer such absolute disgusting service. The planning from the start was terrible – and they never offered the full amount of compensation that they were allowed to offer.

        The other issue I have, is that you never know what kind of condition someone is in during this sort of situation. For all they know he could have been diabetic and suffering from a low. They could have selected someone who was for example severely autistic – this kind of thing would have incredibly upset someone like that. They could have bumped someone who was getting a flight home to see a dying family member. There are so many unknowns – and for them to not have offered the full amount of compensation once people refused to volunteer makes it very clear that they’re much more interested in money than in treating people properly.

      • Bridget says:

        I am amazed they didn’t offer at least the max. But the reason why the employees didn’t just take another flight – I don’t think there was one. Travel was crazy to and from the E coast last weekend, and the plane was probably full of people who were delayed. I’d guess thaT all of the flights were like that.

      • Adrien says:

        Up, up, up the offer until someone gives in. The irritating part is United is willing to give free chicken nuggets and free flight to that twitter guy asking 18 M retweets for a year supply of Wendy’s nuggets so they get free publicity.

      • thaliasghost says:

        “The other kicker – the airline is allowed to offer up to $1300 for bumping the flight. They stopped at $800. Once he had said no, they should have opened the offers again to the full amount allowed. ”

        Hey – why pay more if you can also just order your – probably minimum wage payed employees – to beat up another human being, right?

      • Angela82 says:

        I think it was a bad decision for them to try and get everyone on the plane knowing they were already overbooked. They should have kept offering more incentives until someone took the bait or explain that if no one did they would have to be forced to cancel or something along those lines. Personally I can’t stand when airlines can’t keep track of how many seats have been booked and just assume if it happens they will find the people to give up the seats. Not all of us have the luxury to volunteer to do so every time they screw up. That said United could have kept upping the incentive to avoid this situation.

        On top of it no matter if he refused to go and had to be taken off, this CEO should be kissing this poor doctor’s ass and apologizing for the fact United overbooked in the first place and it lead to this sick incident. Sometimes I feel like living in America these days is living in a violent narcissistic wasteland where citizens don’t care about each other and CEOs can’t even put forth effort to at least pretend to have a shred of human decency or compassion to apologize for a f*cked up situation. Heaven forbid we say “my mistake” or “our mistake”. That being said can’t say if if the pick and assault was racially motivated or not. However, no matter what skin color, race, culture or ethnicity this shouldn’t have happened.

      • Bridget says:

        @thaliasghost – you know that neither flight attendants nor police officers are minimum wage employees, right?

      • imqrious2 says:

        I just wrote to the CEO, stating he and his airline are a disgrace, and he has permanently lost a combined family of 67 people (core, in-laws, kids, etc). from EVER flying his airline again. What a POS.

      • Matomeda says:

        Ok I feel like there is so much omitted and wrong here. It’s not true that no one said he was beligerent. Multiple Witnesses did say that. Also he was not a practicing doctor- his practice was closed in 2005 for violations- trading drgs for sx? And it was not united that removed him, but security. If I’m wrong go ahead and correct me but I read this on a news site that interviewed people- I don’t think it’s this clear cut as it’s being presented. I’m not voicing an opinion on any of this- just that I dont think this is being accurately told.

      • Maika says:

        Even IF he isn’t a practicing doctor it doesn’ change anything – they didn’t know that at that point. For all they knew he was a doctor who needed to see a patient the next day.
        Even IF they knew he was a lying ex doctor, their behavior would be just as disgusting!

      • Matomeda says:

        @Maika I agree. I also hate united. I think everyone acted very wrongly here! I feel badly for the man and he should not have been injured or dragged! I just feel like the facts are getting twisted. Personally I would have complied because it seems like airlines have the power to send you to prison for any reason they deem you noncompliant. I am fearful of flying nowadays and a lot needs to change. It’s a mess!

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Even if he wasn’t doctor, there are so many reasons that make flights important. Their selection process seems to ignore the very serious reasons that people may need to fly. What if he was having a medical procedure the next day? What if he was going to his mother’s funeral? What if his sister was having a baby? What if he was taking an exam for professional licensing? The idea that they give people absolutely no choice is disturbing.

        We have become minions to our corporate overlords.

      • Stella in NH says:

        If you want to “bump” someone off a flight, doesn’t make more sense to do it before they board? Shame on United and that CEO. I’m happy that their stock plunged this morning.

      • Carmen says:

        @matomeda: whether or not he is a practicing doctor has nothing to do with anything! The airline acted like a bunch of thugs. End of story.

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        Couldn’t they have just asked someone else if one of the people they selected couldn’t leave? At best, it seems like violence and a lawsuit that could have easily been avoided if they had asked someone else instead of getting violent. At worst it seems like a mix of that and racism. I really don’t understand how this process works, why the extra customers that they wanted to accommodate were given priority over the ones already on the plain, or why it becomes an unwilling customer’s responsibility to make better.

    • LadyMTL says:

      From what I heard on the news yesterday, they first tried offering cash to people to try and get them to give up their seats – it’s a pretty common occurrence, I’ve seen it happen myself, though it’s always been before boarding. Then when that didn’t work, they used their computer to randomly select four people to kick off the flight. So this guy wasn’t a volunteer, and was supposedly travelling with his wife to boot.

      • Angela82 says:

        Yes that has been my experience. First offer free flights or cash to see if anyone takes the bait (usually they find enough who do) and if no one does they usually say well X amount of people will be unfortunately selected pre-boarding and we will book them on the next flight out if possible bc we have no choice. I have never been on a flight where they go around pretending to “select” volunteers (this was not a volunteer) by means of force.

        I think its a lesson that if the flight is having a situation like this, do not board people before resolving it. You are adding fuel to the fire.

        Either way this CEO should be profusely apologizing and begging people to not boycott United. I know I won’t be taking them for a quite a while just hearing this disaster.

      • Rachel says:

        It’s not cash. They offer a voucher. My husband and I were flying United this weekend. (Booked long ago before all this crap about United became news) I could hear them at the next gate over telling passengers the flight was overbooked, and they were offering vouchers to volunteers willing to give up their seat. It’s not like they give you cash you can use anywhere. It’s a voucher you can use on a future United flight. I even made a comment to my husband when we were sitting there about the greed of airlines, overbooking flights like they do. They all do it. It’s ridiculous! You know exactly how many seats are on that flight! You shouldn’t be allowed to sell more than you have available, then hope some people don’t show, or just bump people when they do show.

        And as far as needing 4 seats for their employees, again it’s not like the airline doesn’t have its schedule set MONTHS in advance. You knew those people needed to be in Louisville, so why wait until the last minute to get them on an overbooked flight!

    • Megan says:

      I fired United as my preferred airline years ago. My sister and I joke their slogan is, “we hate to fly and it shows.” They are notorious for mistreating their customers and their staff. When I saw this headline, I immediately knew it was a United flight.

      They also truly suck at PR. The appropriate action would have to apologize to the victim and other passengers and throughly investigate what happened. Instead, they blamed the victim which just shows how deep their contempt for the little people runs.

      • the_blonde_one says:

        their slogan should now be ‘may the odds ever be in your favor’.

      • Becky says:

        That quote “Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are”

        What a pile of crap.

      • Zan says:

        Yup. I stopped flying United more than a decade ago due to their truly terrible customer service.

      • MC2 says:

        Chicago PD as well should be on blast for the mistreatment, then victim blaming & outright lies. Jesus- this is how they react?! And they claimed, in writing, that the man “fell” & injured himself. They lost SO much trust yesterday & they had little to none to start with.

      • thaliasghost says:

        Who actually owns the company though?

        Who is the one getting the money they get from mistreating customers and employees? A single owner? A CEO? Shareholder value?

      • NotSoSocialButterfy says:

        We also avoid UA like the plague.

      • Rachel says:

        They can’t apologize because it could be construed as an admission of wrongdoing, and that guy is most definitely going to sue United. As well as the Chicago Aviation Authority. And get nice settlements from both.

    • Lucy says:

      Yes! Of course they assaulted a minority, they wouldn’t have dared hit a white passenger. This makes me sick, but in a way I am happy this came out, I have been raging against these imbeciles for years! They did the same thing to me (overbooked flight and kicked me off) years ago when I was 17 and I was stranded in Philadelphia for 7 hours!!! I was terrified as I had never traveled alone before and was at their mercy to get a flight home. I hope this doctor sues, sues, sues and sues some more. I would sue everyone, the airline, the security, police department!!!

    • Jennifer says:

      Yes, he was traveling with his wife, who was a couple of seats behind him watching this all unfold. I have felt deep sadness and anger, as I watched the videos. That poor man. And United is trying to defend their actions by saying he was the one who was causing issues. Disgusting, United.

    • Felicia says:

      I expect we’ll be hearing a whole slew of the tactics that United uses.
      Here’s another one:

      In this case, the passenger was a full fare First Class ticket paying white male investment fund manager. They threatened him with handcuffs if he wouldn’t give up his seat to “a more important customer”. Once again, after he had boarded and was seated already.

  2. Beth says:

    I watched this many times yesterday. What an awful thing to do to someone. They should be beyond embarrassed for treating an innocent person this way. I’m sticking to Southwest and will never even check Uniteds prices

    • MellyMel says:

      Yes, Southwest is the best airline for customers and their employees.

      • Carmen says:

        The only problem (for me) with Southwest is they have no direct flights between New York and California, and I hate layovers and having to change planes.

    • GingerCrunch says:

      My husband has worked for Southwest 16 years now and it’s very hard for me to fly other airlines. Flights are so full these days, we often have to buy tickets (we can fly free if there’s space available) and if it’s not on SWA I absolutely DREAD it. Unless it’s like one of the reallllly service-oriented ones like Qatar, but that’s a rare splurge. Forget United from now on.

  3. Sixer says:

    Can I ask…

    … with this “involuntary denied boarding” thing, we have guaranteed compensation in the EU (I’m still intending to say “we” about the EU right up until Brexit day itself. So there!) So the airline HAS to pay you a few hundred quid whether it likes it or not. Is this the case in the US?

    Dreadful scenes. How did the man even get on the plane? Why wasn’t it sorted out in the terminal? Will those operatives be prosecuted for violent assault?

    • Bridget says:

      In the US airlines are capped BY LAW from paying more than about a $1300 voucher. They offered $800, but no one wanted to take it (they were all seated on the plane already). Don’t forget, there was major weather that disrupted travel to the E Coast all weekend. Some of these people could have been waiting a day or two to get on the plane.

      • Sixer says:

        Right. Gotcha. Here, they do the same – offer an incentive, then force random passengers if nobody takes the incentive. But forced disembarkers are entitled to minimum levels of cash reimbursement over and above ticket cost. Depends on the length of the journey, I think.

        The one time it happened to me, coming back from Italy, I was a voluntary disembarker. I got the relevant EU cash compensation, my ticket for the next day, and a night in a decent hotel.

        I have never heard of this happen BEYOND the terminal booking-in stage, though. I was begged to take the next day’s flight at the booking-in desk.

      • AG-UK says:

        They also do what I have had happen to me before where they give you a voucher it has a name/code that you can take to a different carrier and they will allow you to fly. If the working crew were already on why did these additional ones needed to go or are they just getting their free well $75 flight or whatever it is now to the destination. Why couldn’t they wait as they can get discounted hotels not regular people. I haven’t flown them in years and def. not now. Also wouldn’t they do this at the gate BEFORE you board the plane. I know they have taken stand bys off but I don’t even know if they allow that anymore.

      • Bridget says:

        It’s not as nice to fly here in the US. And we’re basically at the mercy of the airlines, because there are so many rules and regulations, not to mention in this culture of ‘airplane as potential terror target’ we’re expected to shut up and do as we’re told by the flight attendants. It makes me very uneasy.

      • Sixer says:

        Bridget – yes, Mr Sixer saw the footage on our news this morning and said that he was worried Americans were being subjected to way too much official violence – any official violence, not just the police.

      • RuddyZooKeeper says:

        US passengers are entitled to cash, but the cheap bastards only ever really offer flight vouchers that usually expire within the year. I’ve been on several flights that bumped passengers, and I’ve never once had any offer cash.

    • JustJen says:

      They normally do sort this stuff out before boarding but obviously someone was slacking. I hope this dr and his family sue them right into bankruptcy. I last flew with United in 2012 and I swore, never again. I’d heard they’d gotten worse but I didn’t realize they had resorted to outright violence. Surely they could have upped it to the cap and someone would have taken it. The guy was a legit DOCTOR. What if he was your doctor and you were relying on him in dire circumstances, awaiting his return? This story makes me ill and ragey.

    • adastraperaspera says:

      Here’s a good article from Salon about deregulation in US airlines:

      This degradation of the flight industry in the US has been going on for decades, but of course 9/11 gave authorities more power to run riot over passenger rights and just plain common decency.

      I agree with your husband, @Sixer. I’m a US citizen, and things are definitely more violent in my world now. Things in my personal life, like my family living in rural areas who have “machine gun hobbies” now, which would have been considered flat out loony by my farming parents and grandparents. And things in public life, like the now-routine, amped-up patriotism at professional football and baseball games, where the military and/or police are honored at the beginning of nearly every game–seems innocuous, but actually it is conditioning our kids to genuflect at anyone in uniform with a gun. I don’t like any of this.

      • Sixer says:

        Thank you for that article. Very helpful. I get it more now.

        Yes – that’s what Mr Sixer was getting at. Too much “comply with officialdom or you will face violence”. He said it’s the kind of thing you expect from nightclub bouncers (who often manhandle people or use actual violence here) but not officials of businesses. All very authoritarian and worrying.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        I agree. I lived in the US through the Bush years and when we moved to Canada, it was a relief not to have the military in our face at every possible occasion. It’s simply a less militarised, nationalistic society. As well, sports don’t wag the tail of the higher education dog.

      • Jessica says:

        I had to write a thirty page paper on it in law school. Just seeing the post with the link gave me some horrible flashbacks.😳

    • Lightpurple says:

      I think the EU has stronger protections for consumers. I’ve said elsewhere on this thread that I’ve been on flights overbooked by as many as 3 dozen people. It was 4 hours before we were allowed to board and leave for France. Coming back, when we arrived at the airport, there was no plane because they had done the same thing and our plane was still somewhere over the Atlantic but closer to NYC than Paris. And the French authorities were having none of it and were announcing over the loud speakers that the American company was too bland because it oversold by several dozen.

    • lyla says:

      for VOLUNTARY bumping, there’s no cap, it’s up to the airline’s discretion. For some reason, the agents for this flight stopped at $800. They should have upped it until four people thought it was worth their while.

      for INVOLUNTARY bumping, the rules are as follow:
      - If you are bumped involuntarily and the airline arranges substitute transportation that is scheduled to get you to your final destination (including later connections) within one hour of your original scheduled arrival time, there is no compensation.
      - If the airline arranges substitute transportation that is scheduled to arrive at your destination between one and two hours after your original arrival time (between one and four hours on international flights), the airline must pay you an amount equal to 200% of your one-way fare to your final destination that day, with a $675 maximum.
      - If the substitute transportation is scheduled to get you to your destination more than two hours later (four hours internationally), or if the airline does not make any substitute travel arrangements for you, the compensation doubles (400% of your one-way fare, $1350 maximum).

    • Felicia says:

      I read an article today that pointed out that neither he, nor the other three passengers who were deplaned would actually fall under the “involuntarily denied boarding” clause of United’s carrier contract. For the very simple reason that they were already boarded and had therefore NOT been denied boarding.

      Instead, what happened was “refusal to transport” and there again, United’s carrier contract stipulates the conditions under which they can do that. Needing your seat for someone else isn’t one of them. What they did, completely aside from assaulting this guy, was very likely illegal.

  4. Bridget says:

    This is entirely on United. Big shock that no one wanted to give up their seat for an $800 while they were already buckled in. They should have at least offered the maximum (did you guys know that’s capped by law?) especially considering it was after a weekend where travel to the E coast was significantly disrupted by weather. I hope they have to pay this guy through the nose.

    • Sixer says:

      Ah, this is what I was wondering. Can they make you get off and take the next flight WITHOUT compensating you?

      • MinnFinn says:

        I don’t know for sure but I think they can bump you without extra compensation. But I believe the law is they have to pay for your hotel if the next flight out is not until the following day.

      • MC2 says:

        I had United cancel a flight (air traffic controller issues which ‘they are not responsible for’) and they put me on a flight the next day with no compensation of any kind. The kicker is that there was a flight same day- hour later- but I was forced to pay for it because “I was demanding that flight and not taking what they offered me” which was to sleep on a bench in the DC airport. I paid extra money for booking a flight same day on top of the new flight cost! I despise United.

        They don’t understand or care about the impact of changing people’s travel plans which is not worth $800- to them it’s just what they do. And the flight wasn’t overbooked until they decided to put 4 of their own employees on the plane. Then suddenly it was overbooked.

      • Sixer says:

        I don’t like overbooking but I suppose I concede I like cheap flights and overbooking seems to be part and parcel in achieving cheap prices. It happens a lot here in Europe too. But I do think compensation should be compulsory and I do think if the airline hasn’t sorted it at the check-in point, they shouldn’t be allowed to deplane anyone. And the crux of THIS example is that airline officials shouldn’t be allowed to physically manhandle anyone, EVER. That’s a violent crime. Nothing to do with overbooking.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        They have to compensate you. If it’s involuntary and replacement flight arrives at your destination within 1 hour of previously scheduled time, they owe you 200% of your ticket cost. If it is more than 2 hours, you get 400% of ticket cost, up to $1350

      • Bridget says:

        @tiffany: not always. Certain issues (I think mechanical, but in a hurry so can’t check) are classified in a way that the airline isn’t responsible for remuneration. It. Sucks.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Yes, I was talking about being bumped for overbooking. Mechanical and weather related issues don’t apply.

      • Nicole says:

        @MC2 there’s a difference between a cancelled flight and an overbooked flight. If an airline overbooks they have to pay those who choose to leave or are forced to leave. I think I’ve only been on one flight where they had too many customers they need to make room for. Most of the time it’s for reasons like this incident where the airline has to transport a crew to a destination to fly another flight. Sending 4 crew members means they had a flight waiting with no crew somewhere else. Just an FYI this is going to be happening a lot more. The airlines across the board are experiencing a major pilot shortage.
        Compensating passengers for cancelled flights would be a horrible business model. The very nature of the industry holds way too many unknowns. Flights are grounded for acts of God (weather and whatnot) but other reasons as well. If you happen to be flying in or out of an airport that has Air Force One coming in, there’s a chance you’ll miss connections. There’s a mandatory ramp freeze 15 min prior to landing and taking off. Aircraft can’t be within (I’m not sure if this is the correct number) 60 nautical miles of AF1.

    • Nicole says:

      This was my issue as well. Not only did they NOT offer the max (way to be cheap United) but they then let everyone board THEN chose at random. Pretty sure was the plane boards it is not within regulation to forcibly deplane someone (outside illegal activity). Plus the extra passengers were employees. You’re telling me they couldn’t put those 4 employees on another flight that wasn’t booked?! United was in the wrong period.

      They suck as an airline too. Stranded my mom and brother for a full day and tried to not compensate them. Any other airline does. United is cheap and clearly has an issue with leggings and not overbooking their planes.

      • Bridget says:

        I don’t think there were other flights. My question is, there weren’t flight attendants in any other city you could bring out to Louisville?

    • Merritt says:

      The maximum amount the law allows needs to be increased. The reality is the current amount is not enough to make people want to miss important meetings or a day of their vacation. United is awful in general. I stopped flying them for domestic flights.

      • Nicole says:

        I get that but United didn’t even offer the max before kicking people off

      • Bridget says:

        They didn’t even get close to offering the max.

      • Merritt says:

        I know they didn’t offer the max, but even the max is not enough to entice a person to miss something important. That was my point.

      • imqrious2 says:

        People, FLOOD United’s CEO with emails stating you will not fly them again! I already did. Here’s his email: oscar.munoz@united.com WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!!!

      • Cookiejar says:

        I think it’s the minimum that needs to be increased, and none of that “vouchers” crap. Who the hell wants vouchers that, in order to use, they have to use through the company that just kicked them off a flight?

  5. LadyMTL says:

    JFC, is he taking lessons from PepsiCo on how to bungle an already disastrous situation? If I was this poor doctor I’d double the amount of damages that I’d be suing United for, just because of how insulting that statement is.

    • Lilly says:

      Pepsi must be thanking the soda Gods for this distraction.

      Absolutely appalling. I’m guessing the CEO will step down, the gentleman will sue, and United will lose even more business after the whole leggings nonsense.

    • mee says:

      following Pepsi, a ‘hold my beer” from United. the whole incident was unbelievably cruel but the PR response? stupid and callous, which as kaiser said, just makes the whole thing even more ridiculous. I already hated United and now will never fly them again.

  6. Jenns says:

    Also worth noting that the Chicago Police Department stated that the victim “fell” and that’s how he was injured. Which is a total f**king lie because we all have eyes and saw the video.

    • OhDear says:

      Yeah, and a lot of the comments in other articles about this were seriously f-ed up – “airlines have the right to kick you off the flight! It was the guy’s fault for believing that he had a right to use a service that he paid for! Why didn’t he just leave?”

      IMO, a lot of Americans believe that corporations, etc. must be obeyed (esp. by people who are not white, straight, and/or able-bodied, etc.) and that any response is justified if there is non-obedience. Usually that response involves violence. Very authoritarian and disturbing.

      (Steven Thrasher’s twitter thread on the topic, if anyone’s interested: https://twitter.com/thrasherxy/status/851465316362334208)

  7. shelley* says:

    I really don’t understand how the plane got overbooked, don’t they count the passengers on as they are going through boarding ? To actually let people on and get into their seats is just bizarre.

    I know being asked to stand aside would be just as galling in the departure lounge, but letting people board and then asking them to get up and leave is just wrong.

    As for the removal, it was assault plain and simple, absolutely disgusting to watch.

    • Bridget says:

      The 4 were airline staff who needed to get to Louisville to work a flight the next day. They weren’t in the count.

      But yeah, I’m not okay with airplanes being overbooked. That person who doesn’t make it (and do people even not make flights very often?)doesn’t get a refund, and it’s not like they pass on the savings to us in the form of lower ticket prices.

      • GingerCrunch says:

        I guess their computer programs factor in for passengers who miss flights, but in a case like this when everything was a mess due to weather, that’s when you gotta really step up your game in handling this kind of situation. Oh, and customer service. 🙄

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I agree, having everyone board first was a huge mistake.

    • Jay (the Canadian one) says:

      They regularly overbook on purpose on the bet that, statistically, a certain fraction of people will not show up (or show up late) so that they can get the most revenue out of the flight.

  8. Rapunzel says:

    There’s simply no excuse for this. Overbooking doesn’t need to happen. Greedy airlines just don’t care. And forcibly removing a paying customer is disgusting. And I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in your purchase agreement that says you have to comply. Anyone know what the legalese allows?

    • MC2 says:

      I heard that the airline has every legal right to force anyone off a plane for any reason. This is what happens when we have knee jerk reactions to events & give the powers that be the ability to erode our rights in the name of safety. Airlines, after 9/11, can do whatever the f- they want to us. We have zero rights once we enter that plane & they have no accountability.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        It’s bad, because then it came to this kind of situation in which the passenger was zero threat to anyone or anything.

  9. Insomniac says:

    United better think about re-accommodating Munoz. Was he actually trying to throw gasoline on the fire yesterday?

    • Evenhanded says:

      I think he was trying to look apologetic while not admitting liability, for legal reasons.

  10. mom2two says:

    It should be considered fraud to overbook a flight like that.

    I hope the doctor does sue. He has a very good case. United handled this completely wrong.

    • Evenhanded says:

      Especially since it wasn’t technically an overbooking. They were kicking people off for their own employees. I really hope he gets a huge punitive payout.

      • Really? says:

        Pretty sure had United not been so cheap and disorganized, they could’ve chartered a private plane for their precious employees needing to be in the same destination as their paying customers that day. I once had a ship charter a flight for its passengers because the connecting ship had been cancelled due to bad weather. Enough customers complained, so the ship chartered a private plane for their stranded passengers. I don’t recall it being a particularly luxurious ship, just one with better customer service than United. I’ve had other airlines cancel their flights on me, and they are always able to put me on a flight to the same destination that day, just with a different airline.

  11. iris west-allen says:

    This must be a joke right?

    How can United assault a customer like that and think it’s a good idea.

    Honestly I hate flying/driving in the states. It’s like the wild wild west.

    I hope the doctor sues for millions.

    • NotSoSocialButterfy says:

      Everything here in the states is is like the wild, wild west. I say the same thing all of the time out of disgust, especially with the proliferation ( or dismantling of) lax gun laws.

      But of course, no guns permitted in Congress!

  12. Char says:

    This is disgusting. & all to get employees on board? While I know Delta has been getting some flack due to still having backed up flights from the weather in ATL last week, my grandfather worked for them for 30 years & employees were always last to board & they didn’t bump paying passengers for an employee!
    I don’t know what is going on with these airlines recently! I just read a story off a blog from a man with cerebrally palsy who says American Airlines made him get off the plane because the pilot said his wheelchair (that was stored under the plane) wasn’t up to code, or something stupid. I can’t say for sure the story is true, I haven’t heard about it on the news, but I have a friend who knows the man & his wife & she said she can’t see why he would lie about this.

    • Rapunzel says:

      With bad weather delaying things, getting those employees to their next job is important. Remember, there are limits to how long flight crews can work. So, if the new crew doesn’t get in, they don’t ha w crew for their next flights. I had a three hour delay over Christmas due to this, with Virgin America.

      But of course, none of that excuses this. Airlines should keep about 5 seats reserved for employees. But they’re too greedy.

      • RuddyZooKeeper says:

        But how is any of that the paying customer’s problem? Airlines must plan appropriately and well in advance, not make their poor planning the passengers’ fault.

      • Martha says:

        I understand needing to get the crew to Louisville for their next morning flight, but as I understand, a road trip from Chicago to L-ville is only 4 hours. Whey didn’t they just drive the crew there? Probably would have been almost as quick.

        And the United CEO’s comments were completely unsympathetic. What a lousy airline. Hope they suffer bad PR karma.

      • Ani says:

        My daughter used to work for Ryanair. Ryanair is probably the worst airline in Europe. If a flight crew is out of hours and they need to fly in a fresh crew they board the new crew on private planes if other planes are full or cannot get a crew there on time. She has been on 3 private planes where planes were delayed due to various circumstances and they had to have fresh crews. She never heard of any passengers being forced to leave to make way for crews. Why would the pilots need priority to fly the following day? Were they stranded pilots? Or do they live there? If so, why don’t they live within their own airport area

      • Jessica says:

        One of my best friends flew for a major airline out of D.C. As a flight attendant for years. Her take on this: she was horrified. She also said that their normal protocol would be to have them get the crew members a rental car ASAP and get them on the road.

  13. Margo S. says:

    Yeah, well, that ceo winter be ceo for much longer. What an effing idiot.

  14. MellyMel says:

    I still don’t understand why they just didn’t put those four employees on ANOTHER flight? Why inconvenience paying customers who all had to be somewhere and had already been seated? This whole thing is a mess and I hope the doctor sues!

    • Char says:

      I agree. I guess it’s possible the employees had to get on that flight because they needed to work out of Louisville ASAP (maybe flight attendants?) but whoever was working check-in should have worked this out before everyone boarded. The one time I got bumped from a paying flight, I got vouchers for hotel, meals, & ticket to leave the next day. I never even got past my 1st check-in point before they had offered this & worked it all out.

    • Deedee says:

      The United employees were supposed to work the next day. Louisville is a five hour drive from Chicago. There were at least ten better options United could have chosen that would be better than what was done.

      • MellyMel says:

        Well if it’s only a five-hour drive they could have rented a car. But you’re right there were many options they could have chosen.

  15. RussianBlueCat says:

    I don’t understand this overbooking thing. If a flight seats 200 passengers(six seats for crew members let’s say ) once the airline has filled all seats, why does it keep accepting more purchases? The seats are paid for and the airline has the money. The no shows or late passengers would have to wait for the next flight. Just curious

    • Char says:

      Because they fully expect people to not show up/be late/whatever, so they overbook intentionally so they can make as much money as possible. It probably wouldn’t have been as big of a problem if Hartsfield/Jackson in ATL hadn’t had terrible weather last week that caused major flight delays (& other airports that were affected). My dad’s boss was supposed to fly in Wed & couldn’t get back until Friday because of delays. So pretty much every flight is overbooked. The problem here is that whoever was working the gate let everyone board before working this out.

    • Pinetree13 says:

      Google it, they do it on purpose to make double the money on the same seat. All the airlines do it; its shady as heck. Trust me, computers would have no problem calculating when a plane is full. Over booking is done intentionally and they have algorithms to calculate how much to overbook by based on prior flight statistics.

  16. Kyra says:

    By law what the captain of an aircraft says, goes. So “legally” the passenger was in the wrong for resisting.

    However, I hope he sues, wins and the airlines are forced to rethink their procedures because even if you’ve got empty seats they’ve already been paid for – inconveniencing travellers because of greed should not be considered acceptable practice.

    Or next time sort it out at the gate!

    • tracking says:

      Mr. tracking made your first point. Lawful but bad policy. Overbooking policy is tricky though. Apparently up to 20% of passengers on a given flight don’t show. Generally no time to rebook those seats but the passengers who miss pay a relatively small fee to take a different flight, therefore basically taking two seats. Companies lose $$, pass the costs onto consumers, who then yell about higher ticket prices. So I guess I see the logic to the policy, but they need to improve the incentives so no one is forced to give up a seat with insufficient compensation. Cannot BELIEVE United didn’t even try to offer maximum compensation first! Also that they didn’t settle this prior to boarding. Or allow the poor man to explain he was a doctor who needed to see patients the next morning. Sheesh.

      • Anitas says:

        Not sure why we should have sympathy for their business decisions.

        “Four carriers—United, Delta, American, and Southwest—earn more than $20 billion in profits annually and own 80 percent of seats on domestic flights. Along with cable companies, airlines are the top-of-mind paragon for industries that seem to get worse for consumers as they become more heavily concentrated. Indeed, when fuel prices fell last year, as The Atlantic’s Joe Pinsker (who edited this story and who has a relative who works at United) has written, airlines spent the savings on stock buybacks rather than pass them to consumers.”

        Most airlines are constantly reducing the quality of service, cramming more seats, charging for every single thing that used to be free. And people live with that, as long as you’re guaranteed you’ll get what you paid for. As a consumer you should be protected from paying for a seat that’s already been sold to someone else. But we’re constantly asked to have understanding for big businesses getting greedy at our expense.

      • Pinetree13 says:

        Most people don’t buy cancellation insurance so typically the empty seat IS already paid for….they just want to make double the money.

  17. AG-UK says:

    This should have all happened at the GATE not once you are on, easier not to allow a person on versus taking them off kicking and screaming. If the crew that needed to be there as what I read had to fly the next morning then they should have done the bidding before.. as I think you might have had takers, people who are flexible, and I bet the more desperate they would get to have people volunteer maybe the higher compensation as well? Continental was bad but most I hear say UA is awful I’d better not moan when I have to take EasyJet next time.

  18. catwoman says:

    I think that and the Pepsi fiasco were engineered by Jabba the Trump to distract us away from him.

  19. grabbyhands says:

    I’m honestly flabbergasted that, in spite of the overwhelming evidence, both video and other passengers, that the CEO still felt that his response was appropriate.

    Like, how much more tone deaf could you be?

  20. adastraperaspera says:

    Ok, Munoz must resign. What I want to know is, where does the buck stop in the actual incident? Any one of the United actors could have refused to deplane this guy and take the shot on their performance review. Are we actually all so craven now? Are we just saying “hey, it was just my job, and I had to do what they said (sound familiar?)…” Could any of us reading this today really have taken over that man’s seat and flown to Louisville calmly after that happened? Couldn’t the four United staff have just rented a car and driven? Or demanded to be put on another airline’s flight (we know they have deals where they can do that.) Or could the pilots have walked back and dragged those rogue cops off the plane when they began assaulting the doctor? Could the cops themselves have refused to touch this man when he didn’t move and had a perfectly good reason why he didn’t have to? What horrifies me the most is knowing that at least a dozen United staff did NOTHING and allowed this man to be terribly injured. This is the worst example of the “faceless corporation” where nothing is anyone’s individual fault.

    • MC2 says:

      This is a modern day, real life example of the Milgram Experiment. Sick.

    • NotSoSocialButterfy says:

      Yes to all of this, especially the simple issue of putting the traveling crew on another carrier. How stupid. UA’s policies are draconian, to be sure, but to me, it all comes down to the security guy whose ego and rage were ignited by someone subverting his “authority”- this guy is no different than abusive LEOs, prison guards, security guards, animal care workers etc. The same personality type seeks these jobs so that they can get off on abuse. Positions like this should required psychological screening for these traits, but because they are either low paying/ undesirable or dangerous, it will never happen, and we will continue to see inherently cruel people gravitate toward these jobs.

      • Really? says:

        Reminds me of the following…
        Kumar: You were probably the big asshole in your high school, right?
        Officer Brad: Absolutely right.
        Kumar: Used to pick on guys like us every day, right?
        Officer Brad: With pleasure.
        Kumar: Then graduation day came, and we went to college, and you went nowhere, and you thought, “Hey, how can I still give them shit? I know, I’ll become a cop.” Well, congratu-fuckin’-lations. Your dream has come true. Now, why don’t you just take this quiet little Asian guy with the Anglicized name that treats you so well and give him a couple of other tickets? Better yet, just take him to jail. Better idea. Why don’t you just arrest him?

  21. Adrien says:

    You read tweets defending UA aviation security saying the old man is a nutjob. If you check their profile, they are all Trump supporters. Who is the nutcase now? And why are they so defensive? Is there really a need for excessive force to offload a paying passenger?
    I am afraid his race played a big part here. Witnesses said the airline raffled off the passengers who they thought should go. What kind of Hunger Games sh1t was that? I don’t believe it. They targeted him because he is Asian and Asians in their mind are subservient and never complain. When he refused the security got impatient. I know, they do that all the time in hotels and airports. When they overbook, hotel staff will simply look at guests with Asian names and ‘politely’ request them to give up a room in exchange for free stuff and all to accomodate their vip guest. But I don’t remember any of these hotel employees calling security and drag guests if they refused. I hope this old man gets rich.

  22. my3cents says:

    This is the same airline with the leggings a while back? Just wow

  23. SusanneToo says:

    Noted Sexual Assaulter Bill O’Reilly giggles at video of passenger being dragged. Surprised, anyone?

  24. Dumbledork says:

    I was just on spring break with the family two weeks ago, flew United. Both flights to and from Phoenix were overbooked. The flight home was overbooked by 6 people. After the initial ask for people to take a later flight, with a $250 voucher and hotel stay, they starting asking people to check their carryons because they knew the overhead bins would fill up. It was nuts. Watching news now in Chicago, and they said the officer was put on leave, and the aviation expert said that United should have never boarded the flight until the issue was solved. It’s easier to select passengers in an open airport gate, versus a tiny crowded plane cabin. Hopefully the man is okay. United sucks balls.

  25. seesittellsit says:

    The airlines now rank with the financial services industry as the most hated in the country. In pursuit of profits, they have turned air travel into a nightmare, with seats like straitjackets, nickel-and-diming passengers over everything from food service to baggage, guaranteeing that there aren’t enough spaces in the overhead compartments for everyone with a carry-on especially if they are in the last boarding groups, deliberately overbooking flights to maximize profits and then asking for “volunteers” to take a later flight or check carry-on bags, and always intoning about how heavily booked the flight is, without mentioning that that is entirely the airlines’ fault due to how they configure the planes and overbook the flights – as if the lack of room and “full flights” are some sort of Act of God.

    The only reason the airlines are getting away with it is because they have too little competition and people don’t know how to organize demonstrations and boycotts.

    The airlines get more fascistic and unaccountable every year. I hope the guy they dragged off sues and UA have to pay him off handsomely to shut him up.

  26. LisaT says:

    First, there is no reason that any passenger should be removed in this manner. The Chicago Aviation police behavior is indefensible. However, there is something that needs to be clarified. The four United Airline employees were deadheading, i.e flying as passengers in order to reach their work assignment. Some may say so what? United was willing to inconvenience four passengers in order to staff a flight in Louisville.

  27. QQ says:

    I am still pretty stunned at the Media PR people for this Sh*tshow I Mean GOD! but… LOLOLOLOL #NOCountry https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-11/united-airlines-tumbles-as-social-media-storm-spreads-worldwide

    • Insomniac says:

      Ha ha! Some of the pro-authoritarian idiots on Reddit were all “Well, United stock went UP!” yesterday, as if that somehow made this OK.

  28. OhDear says:

    By refusing to take responsibility, United is making the situation worse for themselves.

    I hope the guy is ok, damn.

    • Maria says:

      I’m betting he will never fly United again. A lot of people after seeing this video will avoid flying with United, I bet. I sincerely hope he sues the crisp out of them.

      • NotSoSocialButterfy says:

        I am hoping fervently for a sharp decline to the shareholders. It’s the only way to effect change.

      • Becky says:

        The share price has just dropped, wiping approx $1bn of the company’s value. The CEO could’ve offered an apology and compensation.

  29. SW says:

    and now TMZ is trying to dig up his past to make him look bad. He did something almost 20 years ago, what does that have to do with this situation? I really hate people some days.

    • Whyme says:

      I know me too. It’s disgusting. And no matter what he did in the past they didn’t have that information about him yesterday. And no surprise it’s TMZ. Well maybe a little, I thought Daily Mail might have beaten them to it. 😤

    • Lady D says:

      They have a large smear story dominating their headlines about the dr.

    • OhDear says:

      Of course if the person is a POC there will be a narrative about his/her “troubled past.”

  30. Alexandria says:

    Coming from a customer service background who has seen all types of customers, this is insane. First of all, this is a screwup at check in, why should the customer be penalised? It is easier to manage overbooking at check ins when people have not gotten comfortable in their seats and are already set on their destination. Secondly, they should take the initiative to make people want to leave their seats, because overbooking is essentially the airline’s choice. You are in the service line, full stop. No excuses. If a passenger was abusive or a potential security threat, that’s another issue. This is nuts! Since overbooking is a way to keep costs down, the company has to have comprehensive measures for empowered staff to refer to, without compromising on customer service.

    • Maria says:

      That problem should have been resolved in the departure room. No way they should have let these people embark and then try and fix the problem. Shame on them. And the guy didn’t look like he was fighting them, so the belligerent passenger was a total lie. I wonder if anyone believes it.

  31. Michelle says:

    I am about to show my ignorance because I hardly fly anywhere, but why couldn’t United offer up the max amount ($1300) to volunteers to begin with and then state that the plane was not going to move until they had 4 volunteers? After some time of just sitting there, I would think somebody would be getting up. And if no one did, then offer them $1000 to volunteer and state again that the plane was not going to move. The longer the wait, then the fewer the money. I don’t understand why airlines overbook the flights all the time, but I guess with the bad weather that was around last weekend, they had an overabundance of travelers. It’s still no excuse for what happened.

    • NotSoSocialButterfy says:

      They cannot offer the maximum then reduce it. Once offered, it is a binding oral agreement. They would have to keep adding perks to the reimbursement amount to lure someone off. Which they should have done. If their flights are routinely overfull, they won’t lose but a pittance offering more to get people off. Their philosophy is terrible.

  32. Whyme says:

    I’m disgusted by this and so many have already noted how UA did everything wrong. I hope this man sues and UA pays up big time. I hope other airlines take note and never treat their passengers like this. They acted like this man was a stowaway or drunk and being disruptive! I’m so upset about this (and the San Bernadino shooting.)

    I’m disgusted because I keep seeing on FB posts from known Trump voters “well I’m going to wait and see to learn more before I judge because something else had to be going on” I have seen some form of that everywhere from my white (I’m as white as can be Latina) Trump voting associates and neighbors. That is only because the man was not white! If he was a white doctor then oh well then it’s a different story. How people can look at that video and chuckle (like Bill O’Reilly) or shrug their shoulders and not be shaken to the core like his fellow passengers who witnessed it and defended him are I don’t know what is wrong with people. There is just pure evil in this world. No empathy. And to think I could be flying with my husband and son to Disney World and UA’s CEO, employees and law enforcement feel it’s fine to batter me and drag me from the plane?! What world are we living in? Ugh.

    ETA: I’m just telling you this is my experience with over 30+ Trump voting associates/neighbors. I don’t want to hear it. It’s racism, plain and simple.

  33. Margo S. says:

    These airlines keep acting like it’s the 80s and people can afford to miss flights if and whenever they please. Barely anybody misses flights these days. Most of us only get two weeks vacation a year so you know we arent missing a flight.

    This is happening far to often. I think they need to stop over selling tickets. A law needs to be made to forbid it.

  34. smee says:

    Deregulation and greed caused this.

    Corporations “have the right to make a profit” by over-selling flights. Seems like fraud to me – selling something you don’t actually have.

    What I get from this incident – If you’re on an overbooked flight and don’t volunteer to have your life disrupted then they’ll make you volunteer. When they offered $400, then $800 and no one took the bait, they should have kept going until they said the right number for four people.

    It seems to me that they should save seats on every flight for employees. Also, if they sold the seats and the passenger didn’t show up, they’re already ahead of the game.

    I wonder what the CEO makes? Perhaps his (and other corporate creeps at United) bloated salary is what causes them to pull this kind of shiz. Personally, I never fly United or American bc they truly treat the passengers like crap.

  35. NotSoSocialButterfy says:

    Violently, forcibly removing someone is INVOLUNTARY denial of boarding, NOT voluntary. I hope the board of directors “voluntarily” removes Munoz from his position. Without stocks, without severance- and I also hope fervently that their stock plummets. For a really, really long time.

    I just cannot believe my eyes. Poor, gentle, older man assaulted like that. The aviation authority needs to be investigated, and the rage machine needs to be fired ( and publicly humiliated via social media).

  36. peanut says:


    Even at the max a $1300 raincheck x 4 is a lot of $$ for the airline to ‘fork over’, why not pop your employees on another carrier’s flight and eliminate this situation entirely!?!?

    My heart aches for this man, this was completely unnecessary.

  37. Sayrah says:

    Now the digging into his background has started.

  38. Giddy says:

    I want to know if that security guy is going to be charged with assault. I guarantee you that if anyone treated one of my family members that way I would want it explained to me why it wasn’t assault. The security guy forcefully grabbed the passenger, yanked him out of the seat, caused him to hit his face on an armrest, and some articles have said it knocked him out. I agree that he was in shock and he might have been concussed. That idiot CEO needs to go, and I wish I had shorted United stock!

  39. Who says says:

    Whether this passenger is an angel or not no one should be treated like this. The airline can request the passengers to volunteer to give up a seat before they reach the boarding gate, but not after entering the plane and be seated, that is crazy how they treated that man, in that manner. Surely the airline has other alternatives or smaller planes to take their own 4 staff members to the next location. The airports from Chicago to Louisville is only a 4 to 5 hour drive. I have driven that route many times. Last year, My husband and I were flying from San Diego to Chicago on a Sunday night. It was work for both of us the next day. They announced the plane was overbooked and needed some seats. They kept going up with all sorts of rewards and vouchers. My husband and I got $1,000 dollars each and they put us on another airline, business class that left two hours later. We had carry on, so it all ended up great. Six month later we flew to Europe on those vouchers. The whole thing was done in a very professional way. The CEO of United is completely out of touch with his customer base and too arrogant not to apology to the injured passenger. I hope this man sues the airline. Those videos just turned my stomach.

  40. Bobafelty says:

    I don’t care if the passenger is Satan himself, it does not excuse the airlines behavior. The passenger was wrenched from his seat, knocked unconscious, and dragged from plane. He was then dumped in the terminal after he came to, and security left. He then, ina state of confusion + possible concussion + openly bleeding from mouth, stumbled back onto the plane. He was mumbling incoherently “I just want to go home” over and over. At that point the entire plan was off loaded, in part to clean up the blood from the passenger. Flight left 2 hours late, and the passengers booed the 4 flight crew when they boarded. I am boycotting UA for life.

  41. Cee says:

    Never flew with United and I guess I never will. Poor man. I truly hope real consequences happen – not just a settlement for him but United’s CEO handled this poorly.

  42. Giddy says:

    I just checked Market Watch, and so far United has lost about $230 million today. Good.

    • Whyme says:

      Good! I wish they would go bankrupt. I don’t want other airlines thinking this is how they can treat human beings. I feel sorry for all the good, honest workers but with them out of business hopefully they would get jobs on all the other airlines now taking over their airline business. And with UA’s Asian market? Huge mistake! Dumbasses!

  43. The Original G says:

    Some real PR and legal people will get ahold of this situation today and a substantial out of court settlement will make it better for the victim. Whether this will affect long term airline policy remains to be seen.

  44. dave says:

    Airlines should be fined heavily for every passenger who gets bumped off a flight it should be illegal to overbook.

  45. Lin says:

    United was completely in the wrong. If they needed 4 seats for their employees why didn’t they tell the ” volunteers” selected BEFORE they boarded? Why are customers who PAID for their seats made to give it up, make the employees drive a few hours since it is United’s mistake for overbooking and not planning ahead for employee transport, not the paying customers fault. Plus I am upset they tried to blame the passenger at first for the head injury, not the men strong arming a 69 year old were responsible (they did retract the original statement once videos surfaced showing it was a result of the manhandling, not accidental)
    I would be interested to hear about people who got cash because when I was bumped a few years ago I got a voucher which was difficult to redeem. I was denied redemption when I tried to book for domestic travel 12 weeks before, I was told limited number of seats the voucher is eligible for. The voucher expired in a year despite my attempts to use it. So I understand why noone was willing to get off the plane for even $800, cause for me it was the equivalent of monopoly money.

    • jwoolman says:

      That was my experience also when given such a voucher for voluntarily (no concussion involved) waiting for a later flight. I wouldn’t take a voucher again, it was useless for me. I heard that one airline offered an $800 Amex gift card – I would be happy to take that.

    • jaygee says:

      THANK YOU. WHY didn’t they just drive their flight crew?! It’s so easy a solution I can’t believe they decided to take such an abusive course of action instead.

  46. Spaniard says:

    I thought that Ryanair was the worst airline ever, between this incident and the leggingate It is quite safe to say this airline is beyond awful. Is the Us government going to investigate this incident? I don’t think something so serious like this would have gotten a free pass in the EU

  47. Bobby the K says:

    This is an example of how good business sense can be at complete odds with common sense.

    And like Mr. Burns, the executives don’t get all the fuss, although they will sing to whatever tune the market is playing.

    The PR dept. is in deep thought formatting a series of empty corporate gestures, “To show gravitas, just think of the stock.”

    They have other options, that may even include co-operation. Could they not have flown their employees on (gasp!) another carrier? Assuming these people have some sort of work schedule, could the need for these seats not have been known beforehand?

  48. Cheryl says:

    So United should never have let people board the plane until they had the seats settled. Having someone board and then requesting that they leave is ridiculous and wrong. I don’t know how they were so disorganized that they didn’t realize until they had boarded that they did not have enough seats. The people who this happened to have a right to be angry. With that said who in their right mind lets themselves be physically pulled off a plane. I get being mad – but have some self respect and at least walk off the plane and then sue the airline or call the news channel. I just don’t understand someone who would actually sit there until they were psychically removed. Perhaps he thought that if he just didn’t move no one would actually physically take him off? Remember there were four people. I guess the other 3 walked off? We are not hearing from them. And what upsets me even more is that this story on CNN is an even bigger story then the fact that an 8 year old died yesterday in what was suppose to be a safe place – his school.

    • Ennie says:

      Cheryl, after watching the video, I am guessing he probably eas trusting that they (united and the police) would have respect for his age and his health care job, and he had no other way to be taken out of the plane after they hit his head and rendered him unconcious. They did not even stop right there to check on him, he could have choked witha little of his blood while unconcious. He woke up later. The crew did not take him out but they were waiting for police to do their bidding.

  49. Marianne says:

    If I had already paid for my ticket, checked my luggage, boarded the plane, and was ready to go home/back to work/start vacation whatever Id be pissed too if you suddenly wanted me off the plane.

    Why didn’t United either deal with this before boarding the plane? Or offering more money? Finding another way to get their employees to work? Or calling in other employees to cover a shift?

  50. robyn says:

    Wow … what ever happened to the “customer is always right” motto. I think in this day and age it doesn’t pay to be “belligerent” in any airplane but I’m guessing, in this unusual case, it will pay big time when this customer sues.

  51. BJ says:

    CEO needs to resign

  52. Rb says:

    I actually work for the airlines, this one in particular where this incident occurred. The flight was not overbooked. The airline decided to put on the flight crew to work another flight out of Louisville at last minute. Sadly, the flight was already boarded. It happens often. The company usually tries to plan ahead to book the flight for crew and ask for volunteers before boarding, but that was not the case this time. The “volunteers” were randomly selected. Mr. Dao and his wife initially got off the plane and were rebooked. Mr. Dao decided to run back on the plane and that’s when police got involved. The cops did not hit Mr. Dao, rather during their scuffle, he hit his face on the armrest and busted his teeth out. What happened to Mr. Dao is very unfortunate and extreme, but this practice of removing passengers to accommodate working flight crew happens with all airlines. The crew is not going to drive anywhere to be repositioned as that will cause delays and cancelations for hundreds of other passengers. Them driving could also interfere with rest rules. No, the crew is also not going to take another flight as that will also cause further delays and cancelations. They have to do what the company tells them to do. The airline is not going to risk losing money by keeping seats open… you literally cannot plan for these types of reposition emergencies. Flight crew are people too and there is no telling what happened to cause this crew to be repositioned. Again, this situation is very unfortunate and hopefully United will be revisiting their rules for when things like this happen.

    • catwoman says:

      It’s Dr. Dao. His wife and four of his five children are doctors. He was treated worse than an animal and I hope he bankrupts your crappy airline if this is how you treat paying customers.

    • Ana says:

      The fact that according to you happens often and in other airlines only makes it worse. It doesn’t matter that the doctor was bleeding because he hit his face on the armrest, if that happened it’s because the cops used force against him as we can all see from the video. United can try to embellish this as much as possible but the more they try to excuse it, they worse they look.

    • Gene123 says:

      Wow you’re really drinking the United kool aid, arent you?
      Keep spouting the official message, you cant deny that video and witness reactions.

    • The Original G says:

      Sad that this is the limit of United’s contingency planning. There is more than one way to transport a flight crew whether by land or another airline and United needs to access them when it has tight requirements.

      If you or anyone at United think that your explanation is the proper optics for a customer service organisation you’re deeply mistaken.

    • jwoolman says:

      Your description of the incident directly contradicts several eyewitnesses and their phone videos. The man did not voluntarily leave the plane and went back on after being forcibly removed (and knocked unconscious) when in a dazed state from bleeding and likely concussion. You need to check your sources.

    • Maria says:

      The volunteers were randomly selected? They were hardly volunteers then. And the fact that it happens all the time, and that crews have to get to their next destination was not the gentleman’s fault. He had booked and paid for a ticket, and got himself seated. He did not “volunteer” to get off the flight. You seem to be treating this as a fact of life, and trying to absolve United from all blame. Personally, I would not fly on your awful airline again nor would I ever buy your company’s stock. You may find yourself not overbooked but underbooked in the future, at least I hope you do.

    • The Original G says:

      BTW, Security exists for issues of security, not to muscle unsuccessful customer service initiatives. Without a context of a real security or safety threat, this is just an assault.

    • jj says:

      disgraceful, I guess this shows that United doesn’t give a crap about it’s customers!

  53. Harla Jodet says:

    Now starts the smear campaign. Once again go after the victim! Gawd, this just disgusting!


  54. Ana says:

    This story is terrible in every way, and it’s especially terrible that airlines can overbook flight and “politely ask” passengers who’ve paid for their ticket to get off the flight to accommodate others. I honestly can’t understand how that’s legal, at least in the way this airline did it, since they claim to have followed procedures. I hope the online backlash United has suffered translate into actual consequences.

  55. JoanK says:

    Do air passengers have any rights at all now in the US?
    It seems like as soon as you step into an airport you give up your basic human rights. You can be detained at will by customs officers, have your phone searched, kicked off airplanes on a whim, manhandled…What next?
    Honestly, if I had to travel to the US for work, I would refuse point blank. (Not that that is likely but still)
    And as for taking a holiday in the US, well, you served me the air tickets on a silver platter and licked my feet, I still wouldn’t go.
    The US has a lot to offer travellers, but why risk being abused?

    • jwoolman says:

      I would advise anybody to avoid traveling to the United States by air unless they have an overwhelmingly important reason to do so. Airport security measures have become increasingly humiliating over the years, and Trump’s election has managed to make things even worse. If you must come, bring only a burner phone for minimal contact capability and no history and practice innocently saying “My Facebook password? What’s a Facebook?” Outside the airport, if you are not pale then you really are at increased risk of assault also.

      You’ve heard of folie à deux? Multiply that by about a hundred thousand and you’ve got our current situation.

  56. jwoolman says:

    The smear campaign against the victim has definitely begun. Suspect paid trolls in this, lots of money is at stake.

    United may also lose a big chunk of change from a market they have been cultivating – in China. Turns out the man they assaulted is Chinese either by descent or origin. The Chinese equivalent of Twitter is in flames over this and it is getting considerable attention in the regular media as well. People are ticked bigly and are convinced it was done because he was Chinese. Boycotts are being threatened. Aw. Too bad, so sad for United. “Re-accommodating” isn’t working out so well for you, is it? You might try in future offering huge credit card gift cards rather than giving unwilling “volunteers” bloody concussions.

    I think China has four times the population of the United States. Ivanka better send her kids over to China to chirp in Mandarin for a lot more people.

    • LadyT says:

      Yes. That term re-accommodate is really bugging me. There is no RE about it. United did not accommodate him the first time. They gave him a bloody lip and no flight. Far from accommodating.

  57. Cheryl says:

    Can I just say that replying with “he was a doctor” – is just pulling rank and trying to show privilege. Who cares if he is a doctor. If he is a doctor he probably more than most people on the plane have the money to book another flight. Should he get more respect any anyone else because he is doctor? Someone with that kind of money could easily find another way home. There might have been someone on that plane who had saved for a couple of years to make this flight. Should they be carried off because they were not a “doctor”. I hate it when people pull the privilege card just like those who say “I am actor” (Reese Witherspoon anyone?). As well as I mentioned above – CNN is playing what happened as a big story with several postings. I know I mentioned it above but – Does no one care about the 8 year old that died yesterday??? Is the fact that this many was carried off a plane bigger then the fact that a child was shot in a school? Seriously?

    • jwoolman says:

      It has nothing to do with being able to afford to take another flight or privilege or entitlement. The reason for mentioning he is a doctor is that he said he had patients to see in the morning and couldn’t “volunteer” for a later flight. If he wasn’t there, several people would miss their appointments with him and have to reschedule (including the way to get to his office, that’s a major hassle for me when visiting a doctor since we don’t have good mass transit and I no longer have a car). He also was traveling with another person (his wife). That was a very legitimate reason to insist that someone else be the lucky winner.

      Typically people who allow themselves to be bumped don’t have a tight timetable for getting home and don’t have to be at work or other scheduled event the next morning. I was able to be voluntarily bumped once because it would be a delay of only a couple of hours, I would be driving myself home (car was in the airport parking lot) so nobody had to reschedule a pickup, and the cats had probably already decided I was dead and held a memorial service so they could wait a bit also to find out I was still alive. If I had to be at work the next day, no way would I have agreed to it.

      And we all are quite capable of being concerned about two different events on the same day. Please don’t play the “how can we worry about that when this other thing happened?” card. There are horrible things happening all over the world and in our personal lives all the time. We would be paralyzed if we had to choose which is the most horrible and then devote all our waking moments to worrying about it exclusively.

      • jaygee says:

        His point was that he had work the next day and people’s medical situations were dependent on him going to his job. I’m not a physician but I have a great deal of respect for the fact that he wanted to attend to his patients. I would also respect the fact that he or anybody else would not want to risk their job by missing work as a result of being bumped off a flight, through no flight of their own.

        This isn’t pulling rank or showing privilege. This is simply asking an airline that screwed up not to force you to jeopardize people that are depending on you, as well as your job.

    • Maria says:

      I agree with you there, but unfortunately school shootings are happening more and more. But the news and the papers tended to favour the airline story over the shooting of this poor kid.
      Was this a murder-suicide? Anything on the suspect?

      • jwoolman says:

        I saw the San Bernardino story long before I saw the United assault story. So it definitely has been well reported in the written press at least. The child was apparently not targeted but caught in the crossfire in a domestic murder-suicide. I wish these guys would just kill themselves and leave everybody else out of it. There are too many stories like this.

        The United story is more unusual but could have ended equally badly. The man was injured and traumatized enough that they are lucky he didn’t die. People have died from less, and heart attack is also always a risk with older men (the man they were dragging around is 69). Concussions are also quite dangerous, and he may have had one. He apparently is still in the hospital, probably primarily as a precaution and for testing. So United got what they wanted, to keep him from doing his job because they can’t plan well.

    • Ana says:

      I don’t know what kind of news you watch, but I saw the San Bernardino shooting reported as prominently as the airline thing, at least in the news. The main difference is the coverage that social media does, which has very different standards of what’s newsworthy.

      Aside from that, it’s not that the airline thing is more important than the death of a child. Of course the death of a child is more important. But other shootings have taught us that hurried, on site reporting on these events lead to a lot of misinformation, panic and insensitivity. Crimes, especially one like this, need to be reported more carefully, so I think it’s actually for the best if it’s more subdued and sober.

    • lyla says:

      I don’t think this eclipsed the San Bernardino shooting. Even if this story didn’t happened, coverage would have been the same. Sadly we’re desensitized to school shootings. The only way it would have got more coverage is if the shooter yelled “praise allah” or claimed to be inspired by isis.

      anyway, like jwoolman said, we can care about more than one thing at a time.

  58. HK9 says:

    How is it in 2017, the airlines don’t have a way to accommodate passengers and crew without all these shenanigans? Everyone is on a schedule and that has to be respected. This thing about paying for your travel, and then being ‘volentold’ you can’t get on your scheduled flight is ridiculous. It’s time they find another way-what happened was completely unnecessary.

  59. tw says:

    The victim blaming on here is disgusting.

  60. Lo says:

    I’m glad other passengers left the flight in disgust, I certainly would have.

  61. Desi says:

    United seems to think they’re doing people a favor by deigning to allow them on one of their flights.

    Sorry, but that’s not remotely how being a PAYING CUSTOMER works.

    If UNITED overbooks a flight (which should be regulated, since it’s not supposed to happen anywhere near as often as it does), and UNITED needs to schlep some of its “employees” around, then UNITED should pay for it.

    It should not be legal to forcibly remove a person from a seat they paid for unless there is a safety violation or risk. When would it ever be okay for a company to approach you, post-purchase, and immediately demand their “product” back? And then have their muscle rough you up if you refuse?

    I have to just say, however, while I acknowledge it must have been incredibly upsetting to watch, if the guy had been what people generally deem “Muslim looking,” many of those people would’ve taken WAY less offense to how that man was treated.

  62. Kath says:

    I was absolutely horrified by this story (and video).

    When did the US turn into such a police state, that a citizen minding his own business can be forcibly dragged off the aeroplane seat he BOUGHT AND PAID FOR??

    Why are the Chicago PD in the business of enforcing a PRIVATE COMPANY’S crappy commercial decisions (overbooking = pure greed and maximising the airline’s profit margin)?

    I find it the things Americans are ‘adapting’ to increasingly bizarre: from the militarisation of the police, to being verbally abused by airline staff and subject to the most invasive treatment by the TSA every time someone wants to get on a goddamn flight.

    Obviously people in the US have no choice but comply with these things if they need to travel from A to B, but every single person I know in Aus, NZ and Europe has cancelled their planned travel to the US for the foreseeable future.

    An Australian 70 year old female children’s book author was recently detained and verbally abused by US airline staff, FFS.

    I would be very interested to see the impact of all this on the US tourism industry.

  63. Anon says:

    Notice how Mr. Munoz’s tone changed as the United stock tanked….not surprised by that at all sadly

  64. lyla says:

    I am someone who has a lot of United Miles, but rarely would I ever fly United. I only have it because of Star Alliance (and the fact that if I wanted to book a rewards trip I could use United miles on a Star Alliance member airlines and it would cost less miles using United than the other airline. For ex, it would be 60,000 united miles vs 80,000 star alliance member airline). I racked up miles by using the United credit cards, but for the past couple of years, we switched credit card airlines. And after this story broke (plus the legging fiasco), I’m so glad we did. The last time I flew United, I was coming back to California from NYC (with a layover in Texas) with my sister. Our seats weren’t together, but I kindly asked the gate agent in New York if we could be seated together and she was more than accommodating. When I got to Houston though, the gate agent gave me attitude and told me not to even waste my time asking (cause she wasn’t even gonna try). I don’t see myself flying with United anytime soon. That video was beyond disturbing.

    And about the smear campaign. I don’t see how his past convictions are germane to the issue? Was he trading ‘scripts for sex on the plane and that’s why he was dragged off? No? Then yeah, it has nothing to do with the story. I’m so sick of victims having to pass a purity test.

    I hate that overbooking is a common practice. if i’m late or i missed the flight, guess what? I have to pay for another one. so essentially, i’m paying for two tickets. and this flight wasn’t even overbooked, it was sold-out and they needed four seats for their employees (you know as long as those employees aren’t 10 year old wearing leggings). I don’t understand why the gate agents capped off the voluntary bumping at $800. with voluntary bumping, there’s no cap as per US department of transportation rules. They should have upped it until four people thought it was worth their while to take the next flight, because obviously $800 wasn’t cutting it for anyone. For involuntary bumping, the dot states that you can get $0-1350, depending on how much later you arrive at your destination. also, if you ever get bumped ask for cash instead of a voucher (aka monopoly money) because vouchers can be a b***h to redeem.

    I have to wonder whit this s***show and leggings-gate, will united get new pr people? cause their pr sucks. but at the same time, i think it’s good that their pr sucks so hard cause it reminds us how little these corporations think of us. i see that the ceo finally changed his tune after their shares lost almost $1b dollars. my cousin’s grandfather was president of an airline (not united) and this is not how he would have handled it.

  65. Anon55 says:

    So awful and I’m TOTALLY not surprised this was United. They have been on my “no fly list” for a long time. First, they delayed my flight in 45-minute increments for 11 HOURS. They kept telling us that they were changing a part and if we left the gate area the plane would leave without us. Then I had the misfortune of shipping my poor cat overseas at the time of the US/Continental merger. We had researched the best airline for shipping pets and purchased with Continental. When I went to drop off my kitty in the animal/cargo-shipping area, however, I was greeted by a UA employee who could not use the computer then literally ran away to hide in a breakroom looking area. I could see him through the window…it was so bizarre. To make a long story short…they LOST my cat! Like, the whole crate with the cat inside. The only reason I found out was because I called the tracking line to check on him and they were like…???? Thankfully the poor guy turned up (in the wrong city), we were reunited, and they comped the entire thing, but holy moly…total $hit show!