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Man pulled off of overbooked flight UA3411 (ORD-SDF) 9 Apr 2017 {Settlement reached}

Man pulled off of overbooked flight UA3411 (ORD-SDF) 9 Apr 2017 {Settlement reached}

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Old Apr 13, 18, 1:33 pm   -   Wikipost
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Statement from United Airlines Regarding Resolution with Dr. David Dao - released 27 April 2017
CHICAGO, April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- We are pleased to report that United and Dr. Dao have reached an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard flight 3411. We look forward to implementing the improvements we have announced, which will put our customers at the center of everything we do.
DOT findings related to the UA3411 9 April 2017 IDB incident 12 May 2017

What facts do we know?
  • UA3411, operated by Republic Airways, ORD-SDF on Sunday, April 9, 2017. UA3411 was the second to last flight to SDF for United. AA3509 and UA4771 were the two remaining departures for the day. Also, AA and DL had connecting options providing for same-day arrival in SDF.
  • After the flight was fully boarded, United determined four seats were needed to accommodate crew to SDF for a flight on Monday.
  • United solicited volunteers for VDB. (BUT stopped at $800 in UA$s, not cash). Chose not to go to the levels such as 1350 that airlines have been known to go even in case of weather impacted disruption)
  • After receiving no volunteers for $800 vouchers, a passenger volunteered for $1,600 and was "laughed at" and refused, United determined four passengers to be removed from the flight.
  • One passenger refused and Chicago Aviation Security Officers were called to forcibly remove the passenger.
  • The passenger hit the armrest in the aisle and received a concussion, a broken nose, a bloodied lip, and the loss of two teeth.
  • After being removed from the plane, the passenger re-boarded saying "I need to go home" repeatedly, before being removed again.
  • United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said the flight was sold out — but not oversold. Instead, United and regional affiliate Republic Airlines – the unit that operated Flight 3411 – decided they had to remove four passengers from the flight to accommodate crewmembers who were needed in Louisville the next day for a “downline connection.”

United Express Flight 3411 Review and Action Report - released 27 April 2017


Internal Communication by Oscar Munoz
Oscar Munoz sent an internal communication to UA employees (sources: View From The Wing, Chicago Tribune):
Dear Team,

Like you, I was upset to see and hear about what happened last night aboard United Express Flight 3411 headed from Chicago to Louisville. While the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did, to give you a clearer picture of what transpired, I've included below a recap from the preliminary reports filed by our employees.

As you will read, 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. 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, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.

I do, however, believe there are lessons we can learn from this experience, and we are taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding this incident. 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.


Summary of Flight 3411
  • On Sunday, April 9, after United Express Flight 3411 was fully boarded, United's gate agents were approached by crewmembers that were told they needed to board the flight.
  • We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation) and when we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions.
  • He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft, and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.
  • Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight. He repeatedly declined to leave.
  • Chicago Aviation Security Officers were unable to gain his cooperation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist - running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.
Email sent to all employees at 2:08PM on Tuesday, April 11.
Dear Team,

The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.

I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.

It’s never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We’ll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.

I promise you we will do better.


Statement to customers - 27 April 2017
Each flight you take with us represents an important promise we make to you, our customer. It's not simply that we make sure you reach your destination safely and on time, but also that you will be treated with the highest level of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect.

Earlier this month, we broke that trust when a passenger was forcibly removed from one of our planes. We can never say we are sorry enough for what occurred, but we also know meaningful actions will speak louder than words.

For the past several weeks, we have been urgently working to answer two questions: How did this happen, and how can we do our best to ensure this never happens again?

It happened because our corporate policies were placed ahead of our shared values. Our procedures got in the way of our employees doing what they know is right.

Fixing that problem starts now with changing how we fly, serve and respect our customers. This is a turning point for all of us here at United – and as CEO, it's my responsibility to make sure that we learn from this experience and redouble our efforts to put our customers at the center of everything we do.

That’s why we announced that we will no longer ask law enforcement to remove customers from a flight and customers will not be required to give up their seat once on board – except in matters of safety or security.

We also know that despite our best efforts, when things don’t go the way they should, we need to be there for you to make things right. There are several new ways we’re going to do just that.

We will increase incentives for voluntary rebooking up to $10,000 and will be eliminating the red tape on permanently lost bags with a new "no-questions-asked" $1,500 reimbursement policy. We will also be rolling out a new app for our employees that will enable them to provide on-the-spot goodwill gestures in the form of miles, travel credit and other amenities when your experience with us misses the mark. You can learn more about these commitments and many other changes at hub.united.com.

While these actions are important, I have found myself reflecting more broadly on the role we play and the responsibilities we have to you and the communities we serve.

I believe we must go further in redefining what United's corporate citizenship looks like in our society. If our chief good as a company is only getting you to and from your destination, that would show a lack of moral imagination on our part. You can and ought to expect more from us, and we intend to live up to those higher expectations in the way we embody social responsibility and civic leadership everywhere we operate. I hope you will see that pledge express itself in our actions going forward, of which these initial, though important, changes are merely a first step.

Our goal should be nothing less than to make you truly proud to say, "I fly United."

Ultimately, the measure of our success is your satisfaction and the past several weeks have moved us to go further than ever before in elevating your experience with us. I know our 87,000 employees have taken this message to heart, and they are as energized as ever to fulfill our promise to serve you better with each flight and earn the trust you’ve given us.

We are working harder than ever for the privilege to serve you and I know we will be stronger, better and the customer-focused airline you expect and deserve.

With Great Gratitude,

Oscar Munoz
United Airlines
Poll: Your Opinion of United Airlines
Poll link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KP68GYG
Results link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/results...Q6B2B/instant/
Reference Material

UA's Customer Commitment says:
Occasionally we may not be able to provide you with a seat on a specific flight, even if you hold a ticket, have checked in, are present to board on time, and comply with other requirements. This is called an oversale, and occurs when restrictions apply to operating a particular flight safely (such as aircraft weight limits); when we have to substitute a smaller aircraft in place of a larger aircraft that was originally scheduled; or if more customers have checked in and are prepared to board than we have available seats.

If your flight is in an oversale situation, you will not be denied a seat until we first ask for volunteers willing to give up their confirmed seats. If there are not enough volunteers, we will deny boarding to passengers in accordance with our written policy on boarding priority. If you are involuntarily denied boarding and have complied with our check-in and other applicable rules, we will give you a written statement that describes your rights and explains how we determine boarding priority for an oversold flight. You will generally be entitled to compensation and transportation on an alternate flight.

We make complete rules for the payment of compensation, as well as our policy about boarding priorities, available at airports we serve. We will follow these rules to ensure you are treated fairly. Please be aware that you may be denied boarding without compensation if you do not check in on time or do not meet certain other requirements, or if we offer you alternative transportation that is planned to arrive at your destination or first stopover no later than one hour after the planned arrival time of your original flight.
CoC is here: https://www.united.com/web/en-US/con...-carriage.aspx
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Old Apr 15, 17, 11:35 am
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
Dao's background has nothing to do with the illegal actions of United and the Chicago Department of Aviation.
There's an old legal aphorism that goes, "If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table."

Here, UA was in violation of its own contract of carriage, didn't have any legitimate reason to call law enforcement, could have easily fixed its problem by offering higher VDB amounts and most likely could have avoided the situation with better planning.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 16, 17 at 1:40 am Reason: quote updated to reflect Moderator edit; discuss the issues, not the poster(s)
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Old Apr 15, 17, 11:37 am
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Originally Posted by STS-134 View Post
The CoC does not, AFAIK, contain provisions stating that pax can be removed from the plane for reasons other than being a security threat, after they have been boarded.
There are other reason to refuse transportation (e.g. being barefoot or UA having to reserve seats after being required to do so by the military or government)

[Moderator edit; see reasons below.]

Last edited by Ocn Vw 1K; Apr 15, 17 at 1:19 pm Reason: Per FTRule 12 and this thread's wiki: discuss the topic, not other members.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 11:37 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
The tort is false imprisonment. That's the unlawful restraint of a person against his will by someone without legal authority or justification. I would expect his lawyers will allege that, yes. Though the battery (nonconsensual contact) will probably be their main claim, since that's where the most serious injury occurred.

He will basically seek the same damages from both United and the city, consisting of both physical and emotional harm, as well as medical expense. The theory will be that UA is responsible for the harm caused by the city employees, since the harm was foreseeable when they called the police to remove him.
Yes, based on my experience with tort cases, he'll sue both as conamed defendants and let them fight it out as to how to divide the liability. I'm expecting cross actions between United and the DOA. United will claim they called for CPD and got DOA security guards instead, and DOA will claim that United misrepresented the situation and their own CofC.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 11:37 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
No, it was done to benefit UA's bottom line, pursuant to procedures which were designed to minimize UA's costs, regardless of the impact to paying customers.

The "greater good" argument is nonsense. There were multiple alternatives available which would not have required forcibly removing Dr. Dao from the aircraft.
I am not defending what UA did, just pointing out that the logic tree used in their decision to put the crew on that plane revolved around inconveniencing as few customers as possible. Some were going to get inconvenienced no matter what under their plan, it was a question of how many. If minimizing the number of inconvenienced customers is congruent with benefiting UA's bottom line, then so be it.
Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
And again, UA Oops (intentional) messed up, and UA expected - demanded actually - that their customers fix it for them. Did they offer any customer a job in Oops since they were looking at him as their troubleshooter? Does their contract with a passenger define their unpaid employment in UA operations?
Presumably you can answer that as you work in UA Ops as you know exactly what went on. How do you know they "intentionally messed up"? It's very possible that I missed it somewhere as i haven't read every post nor every news article but has it been proven that the crew could have gotten on a different flight? It would seem that if the crew could have then so could a passenger. So UA could have told passengers that they would get an $800 voucher and be on an AA (or whomever) flight in an hour or so. Again, not defending UA just pointing out that without the benefit of hindsight, the decision was most likely made to inconvenience as few customers as possible.
Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
As far as the people sitting on the plane at that moment it was only their flight that was being impacted. It certainly is not the responsibility of a passenger to fix the airlines foul ups. United had other choices to get their crew relocated but decided bumping passengers was the best option so I stand by my statement that passengers were last on the pecking order of importance.
What proof do you have that there were other viable options that would impact less customers? I readily admit I might have missed it so if you have it, by all means point me in that direction. If UA could have put the crew on another carrier's flight, then they could also have put their passengers on that flight. Has it been confirmed that other airlines' flights had seats available?
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Old Apr 15, 17, 11:42 am
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Originally Posted by justhere View Post
What proof do you have that there were other viable options that would impact less customers? I readily admit I might have missed it so if you have it, by all means point me in that direction. If UA could have put the crew on another carrier's flight, then they could also have put their passengers on that flight. Has it been confirmed that other airlines' flights had seats available?
The fact that someone was reported to have said he or she would volunteer for $1600 means that there was another option that would have caused less inconvenience to those removed.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 11:44 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
I don't see any evidence that would allow one to conclude that Dr. Dao was necessarily "looking for a VDB payout from the beginning." At some point he expressed willingness to consider a VDB but apparently declined when he learned that he would arrive in Louisville 22 hours late, on the 2:55 pm UA/UX flight the next day (Monday). Unless and until he accepted the VDB based on all the details, he was fully entitled to decline it.

Some people, including many on FT, look for VDBs but many others are simply willing to consider them when a GA makes the announcement that the airline is looking for volunteers. Some volunteer because they can use the airline vouchers for later travel while others hope to be rebooked onto better routings (including routings that earn more miles), more preferred aircraft, better seats, or upgrades to premium cabins. I suspect that a few people even consider VDBs out of a sense of helping others or the common good when their travel plans are flexible; such individuals might not care that much about the payout.
You're confirming what I stated in the post of mine which you quoted. At ORD, witnesses noted that he initially volunteered to be bumped but then declined the VDB arrangements once he was informed that it would mean not taking any flights until the middle of the next day. In other words he was looking for a VDB payout from the beginning but turned down VDB once he found out how lousy the airline was going to be about it. And given VDB meant a Sunday night stay at ORD with way many cots put out for cancellation-hit passengers, who knows how bad the hotel arrangements would be.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 11:50 am
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Originally Posted by denuaflier View Post
He is right in telling that.
I believe, as disgusting as you find it, people should comply with law enforcement? His case could have been persued in an alternate venue, without incident (just like the three passengers who deplaned earlier).

I have previously worked in the airline industry, not UA, but this could have happened with any of the commercial carriers. So, in fact I do have insight to how this unpleasant process unfolds. [Unduly personalized text edited by Moderator.]

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 16, 17 at 1:44 am Reason: quote updated to reflect Mod Edit;See note above; and this site's wiki and FT Rule 12.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 12:00 pm
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Originally Posted by SkiAdcock View Post
TMZ reporting change effective immediately.

"Effective immediately, a passenger cannot be removed to accommodate a United crew member unless it's essential for the crew member to make the flight in order to work another flight, AND the crew member arrives at least 60 minutes before the doors close. The idea is that the airline will make decisions on who to boot from a flight at the gate or lobby area ... before the passengers board the jet. If a crew member arrives less than 60 minutes before the doors close, tough luck ... they have to take a later flight."

Actual doc in link:

Hate to say that 'I told you so', but that's one of my recommendations for UA's change of crew scheduling and booking policy. A good direction by UA to try to fix the issue.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 12:10 pm
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I have not seen it but does the new UA crew booking policy cover their contracted regionals? If not then it does nothing for this situation as this incident was on a regional.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 12:17 pm
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Originally Posted by dvlsadvc8 View Post
I must have an agenda because I believe, as disgusting as you find it, people should comply with law enforcement?
If a law enforcement officer tells you to strip naked and dance in the street or else you'll be arrested, you'd comply? What if a LEO tells you (and all of the other <insert race here> people in a restaurant) that you all need to leave the restaurant, because the owner has ordered all <insert race here> people out of the restaurant? There are lawful orders and unlawful orders and you do not have to comply with unlawful orders.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 12:18 pm
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Originally Posted by dvlsadvc8 View Post
Last, what many believe to be their "passenger rights" is not the same as your Constitutional Rights. Air travel is NOT a right; it is a CONVENIENCE. However, you, as an individual, do have every right to buy or charter a private flight in order to meet your specific travel requirements and expectations. If you can't afford this mode of travel, other options are yet available. You may reach your destination by train, bus, or how about this... DRIVE yourself. The chances that you will be "bullied, beaten, concussed, humiliated, or booted" from your private vehicle are slim to none.

The unfortunate outcome for passenger Dao was the result of his defiance toward "law enforcement" on scene. With the representation of an attorney, this individual wants to take a stand for passenger rights; had he taken a stand on flight 3411, and deplaned without incident, handling the situation with UA personnel (as did the prior three passengers), no altercation or injury would have taken place. This entire incident has only set a negative precedence for ALL parties involved.
I guess you need a brush up in contracts. The CofC does indeed create certain rights between parties, very much in contrast to your opinion, the biggest one is that according to case law once Dr. Dao set foot on the plane and off the jetway he was fully boarded and in possession of his paid for and granted by UA through contract seat. There was nothing in the contract UA could have done short of removal with cause that UA could have done to take the seat from him at that point per their contract.

The fact that UA used a non-police security force to physically regain possession of that seat and assault Dr. Dao in the process really smacks horribly in the face of resolving contract disputes. [Moderator edit; see note below.]

Last edited by Ocn Vw 1K; Apr 15, 17 at 1:14 pm Reason: Per the thread Wiki and FT Rule 12, members must discuss the topic, not attack other posters.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 12:20 pm
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Originally Posted by dvlsadvc8 View Post
Wrong. This happens on all airlines, everyday. This unfortunately escalated to a standoff between parties, and everyone came out a loser.
Wrong. Dr. comes out a winner. Easiest payday in his life.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 12:24 pm
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Originally Posted by dvlsadvc8 View Post
Keep telling yourself that.
They did. United had about 2 million chances to de-escalate the situation and failed to do so. That's on them.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 12:29 pm
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
Sometimes defiance in the face of police brutality is, unfortunately, necessary to advance a greater good. At a minimum, I expect his resistance to have some impact on an incredibly toxic culture at United Airlines. The letter from the Chairman of the Board took a strikingly different tone from that of the CEO, leading me to believe that maybe the Board will attempt to make a significant change - starting a the top. That, in and of itself, would be a baby step forward.

But hopefully, public anger will have an impact on Congress and we'll get some level of increased passenger protections in the future. I don't expect them to seriously change how the U.S. airline cartel does business, but some level of humane customer service related rules could get added. (Start with some degree of meaningful IDB compensation with minimum amounts will above where they are today.)

Dao himself can choose to take a settlement and disappear. No one would blame him if he does that. Or he could fight this thing all the way to a long, messy, public trial - and that might actually end up in our (the traveling public) favor.
I'm starting to think that a big part of the problem is that IDBs are regulated. When the government mandates what the airline must pay as compensation, they're going to be unwilling to pay more, at least if they're shortsighted and don't look at the bigger picture of the good will that can be gained by trying hard to do a VDB instead. In fact, even if the VDB would cost the same or less on average, given the breakage rate of vouchers denominated in UA$s, GAs can have a tendency to choose to do IDBs because they're perceived to be easier and faster, even though the airline might prefer VDBs at approximately the same cost in order to make their IDB statistics look better.

If there were no regulation regarding IDBs beyond just the rule that they're not permitted, airlines would be forced to do VDBs at the market price, whatever they can negotiate in order to convince the necessary number of passengers to accept the VDB offer.

This seems much better than a system in which the government tried to set the price at long and irregular intervals in a way that is almost independent of the circumstances and value to people of the flights, namely using only a crude three step measure of the length of the delay and then a formula requiring payment at a multiple of the fare the individual paid for the particular segment up to a fairly low amount. Yet if not getting the one segment prevents you from getting to your destination, it would make more sense to use the entire fare for the ticket or at least for the direction in question.

In fact, when IDBs are capped at $1350, one could imagine situations, such for flights to/from the Super Bowl, where the airline has an incentive to continue to sell almost unlimited numbers of tickets at high fares and to IDB even more people than the number of seats on the aircraft. For example, if the carrier knows that IDB is capped at $1350 for a seventy seat flight, but there are a hundred people willing to pay $2000 per one way ticket in addition to seventy who have already paid $1500, the airline can maximize profits by selling all one hundred additional tickets at $2000, giving IDBs to an arbitrary list (it doesn't matter who in this example) of one hundred passengers at $1350 each, and rebooking the hundred over the following days. The airline keeps all of the fares paid, pays the IDBs, and can raise its profit for every passenger who purchases a ticket.

If we change the example to have the seventy initially purchase sufficiently cheap tickets, they'll be the first in line to be selected by the airline for the IDB providing that their fare for the segment is less than $1350/4. Otherwise, again it doesn't matter to the airline who gets the IDBs, at least from the perspective of costs and revenues associated with the flight. Longer term, the carrier is likely to want to treat CIPs well, so that FFers, those with high fare classes, and premium cabin passengers tend to be immune from being selected for IDBs.

If the airline can sell a thousand tickets at $2000 instead of only a hundred, again they make even more money on the flight, although now we have even more IDBed customers who must wait many days for their new flight. So it can pay to oversell the flight by a factor of more than ten times the number of seats on the aircraft.

At some point this probably (IANAL) becomes fraud, but it would cost an individual passenger more to pursue the airline in court than the amount they would be likely to receive, short of a class action case, unless the customer in question had purchased an extremely expensive nonrefundable package for the game. The airline, of course, would try to convince them that there is no realistic remedy and perhaps toss a one year UA$500 voucher, worth US$125 on average due to breakage, to them in exchange for an agreement not to sue. In the meantime, the customer has missed what might be a once in a lifetime Super Bowl experience.

Last edited by MSPeconomist; Apr 15, 17 at 1:09 pm Reason: Correcting autocorrect and adding a bit
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Old Apr 15, 17, 12:33 pm
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Originally Posted by GrokGrok View Post
There is a great satire article in the Washington Post a day or so ago entitled, "Crucified Man Had Past Run-Ins With Authorities."
Link please?
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