Doctor forced off by security workers after refusing to give up seat on full flight.
United Airlines president and chief executive Oscar Munoz has promised an investigation with “a sense of urgency” after a flyer headed to Louisville, Kentucky was forcefully removed from his seat by three alleged police officers after he refused to yield his seat on an overbooked flight. A video posted to Facebook and later verified by the carrier detailed the situation that took place on Sunday, April 9.
United Flight 3411 was scheduled to take off around 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, but was ultimately overbooked. According to witnesses who spoke to the Louisville Courier-Journal, gate agents at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) initially told flyers the flight would be overbooked and were seeking volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for a $400 travel voucher and a free hotel night stay. None of the individuals accepted the offer and the airline continued to board the aircraft.
After boarding was complete, witnesses say that another gate agent used the aircraft intercom to inform passengers they were seeking four volunteers to give up their seats to accommodate four crew members who were scheduled to work in Louisville the next day. Nobody accepted the offer of an $800 travel voucher in this situation. The problem was escalated to the point where a computer program was utilized to randomly pick four individuals to be involuntarily denied boarding. The individuals selected included a couple, followed by the individual captured on video.
Witnesses told the newspaper the male, who has not yet been identified, told the three individuals who wore jackets identifying themselves a police that he was a doctor who had to be in Louisville on Monday to see patients. As a result, the individual would not give up his seat. After a brief exchange, the three men forcefully pulled the individual out of the chair and dragged him off the aircraft.
Please share this video. We are on this flight. United airlines overbooked the flight. They randomly selected people to kick off so their 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. #unitedairways -To use this video in a commercial player or in broadcasts, please email email@example.com-
Posted by Audra D. Bridges on Sunday, April 9, 2017
The witness who posted the Facebook video described the demeanor of other passengers immediately afterwards as “…shaky and so disgusted.” A second video posted to Twitter shows a different angle of the same incident.
— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017
After the incident, a spokesperson for United confirmed to the media that law enforcement was called in after the individual refused to leave his seat. Additionally, the airline “apologized for the overbook situation,” promising more details later. Additional details came from Munoz, who issued a statement noting that United would continue to investigate and reach out to the passenger to resolve the situation.
United CEO response to United Express Flight 3411. pic.twitter.com/rF5gNIvVd0
— United (@united) April 10, 2017
Neither the Chicago Police Department nor the Chicago Department of Aviation have commented publicly about the situation.
The gaffe was United’s second major social media embarrassment in less than a month. Earlier in March 2017, the airline was called out by several celebrities and frequent flyers over their decision to bar a girl wearing leggings while flying on a “buddy pass” from boarding her aircraft.