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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 10, 17, 5:41 pm
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: NYC, FLL
Programs: UA 1K, SPG PPE, DL Crossover, BA Silver
Posts: 4,138
Originally Posted by dmo580 View Post
[*]As for pulling someone else, the FA could've easily announced something like "Well thanks to Mr. Uncooperative in 26A, we're going to have to ask another passenger to deboard." Maybe people will glare at him and he will finally leave, or that might be enough guilt to get him to get up and deplane.[/LIST]
That's a serious suggestion?
seanp7 is offline  
Old Apr 10, 17, 5:41 pm
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 197
I hope this marks a turning point of the aviation police, TSA agents and airlines abusing their power in the name of safety and security ever since 9/11.
simpletastes is offline  
Old Apr 10, 17, 5:41 pm
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: USA
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Posts: 392
united - this is unaccepatble treatment.
sambb is offline  
Old Apr 10, 17, 5:41 pm
Join Date: May 2006
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Originally Posted by 5khours View Post

3. The pax was a jerk. Admittedly the laws are bad but that doesn't give him the right to ignore them and inconvenience the other pax. He's legally required to comply both with crew instructions and lawful orders from law enforcement. How do you think police enforce lawful orders that are not complied with.

4. The people who disrupt flights are never prosecuted. They just get a lecture and then are put on another flight home. There's very little downside for starting a fuss on an airplane... and you get a lot of attention and sympathy on social media. If there was a real risk of prosecution, pax would comply with the first polite request from the crew.
As multiple posters have noted, the airline was not acting lawfully based on US regulation.

The flip side of your last point is people who meekly walk off the flight are just screwed and nobody cares and the airline continues on with its current behavior. There are no consequences to the airline's behavior if the passenger is compliant with inappropriate action by the airline. Note we're not talking about the people are legitimately violent or disruptive on the flight, but rather people like this guy who was a victim of the airline's mistake.
ssk1127 is offline  
Old Apr 10, 17, 5:41 pm
Join Date: Sep 2016
Programs: United, AA
Posts: 43
Originally Posted by Summa Cum Laude Touro Law Center View Post
1. The IDB policy in United's Contrract of Carriage DOES NOT allow United to remove passengers from the plane. This is in contrast to other provisions in United's Contract of Carriage that explicitly allows United to remove passengers from planes.

2. The passenger was a lawful licensee on the plane in conformance with all of the terms and conditions of his licensee. As such, he was not trespassing and United did not have the right to remove him.
Are people actually arguing that a paying pax is a trespasser? Oh cool, I pay a full fare for a United flight and United is now allowed to slam my face into an armrest until I bleed because the plane is "their" property.

Where is the upside down emoji when you need it?
aerosexual is offline  
Old Apr 10, 17, 5:41 pm
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 43
Originally Posted by james dean View Post
not true, a pax can be removed for any number of reasons...
Sure, but the "any number of reasons" do not include oversold flights. Don't take my word on it. Read Rule 21 of United's Contract of Carriage.
Summa Cum Laude Touro Law Center is offline  
Old Apr 10, 17, 5:41 pm
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 451
Originally Posted by ukyank View Post
the difference would be though that FA's should have a higher degree of reliability when requesting security backup for a passenger then a random person calling about a neighbor.

Was as the passenger just sitting quietly before the escalation?

note I'm not blaming the passenger for anything, I still put all the blame on united I just also recognize the position law enforcement is in when they are called into such a situation,
I feel like it's up to United to communicate that this is an uncooperative passenger regarding IDB not one posing a threat to the flight.

And it's also up to security/law enforcement to really de-escalate these situations and not treat every situation on a plane like it's a potential 9/11.

Since people bring up ANA, I wonder what this would be like in Japan had someone refused to get up. They'd probably get dragged off the plane too, but with far more care.
dmo580 is offline  
Old Apr 10, 17, 5:42 pm
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Mansfield, QLD (BNE)
Programs: UA*1K & UA Club, Hilton D, Mariott/SPG Plat Elite, National Ex. Elite, Hertz Plat, Amex Plat
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Originally Posted by simpletastes View Post
So if I have a uniformed officer telling me to pay United $10,000 immediately, should I do that?
You have the right to demand a trial, which is a legal right going back to the days of the Romans, and to seek civil and criminal remedies for police misconduct.

You have the obligation to comply with an officer's demands for you to physically move. If those orders were not lawful, you can seek a remedy, and frankly in America those remedies aren't that hard to get.
Joshua is offline  
Old Apr 10, 17, 5:42 pm
Join Date: Jan 2017
Programs: UA
Posts: 277
I think the issue has really been emblematic of the UA employee travel problem

1) There are WAY too many UA employees flying around to get to work. This causes massive problems for paying customers.
2) In this world of reduced seat capacity, there should be a reduction in employee flight benefits. The customers have taken a haircut, so should you guys
3) UA should pay their employees enough to live in their hubs. Having very few of their EWR, SFO employees actually live at those bases because they can't afford to is a problem that places additional stresses on the system.
4) UA should be more accommodating of passengers in anticipation of trouble. Frequently, there's a scrum for flight space after any IRROPS because UA refuses to allow anyone to proactively manage it. You know the flight is going to be cancelled or is oversold....why not reach out to people beforehand to manage the load? I've had UA refuse to put me on a non-stop from IAH-YYC that had space because I only paid 1200 bucks for the flight via SFO. Of course, IAH-SFO was oversold and I had to fly via SFO and someone got left at the gate. Of course a dozen or so UA employees were on the plane too.
5)If a UA customer can miss a meeting because of IRROPS, then so can a non-FLIGHT OP employee.

Last edited by TominLazybrook; Apr 10, 17 at 5:51 pm
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Old Apr 10, 17, 5:43 pm
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Posts: 4,024
Originally Posted by robinhood View Post
Can anyone imagine this sort of thing happening on ANA? Everyone from the CEO down to the flight crew to the gate agent would be immediately dragged before the cameras to publicly bow in shame and resign for treating a customer so disgracefully. The problem here is that we have a culture among US airlines (and this is by no means confined to UA) where the passengers are "the enemy" and are routinely treated as such.
And be called before the national assembly to have their asses handed to them.

Remember nut rage?

Put me on that jury. I'll hand the customer more money than he and the next four generations could possibly hope to see in their entire lifetimes. Then put me on the jury for the case suing the police. I'll gut them. By the end of it all, maybe he'll have enough money to buy United.
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Old Apr 10, 17, 5:43 pm
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 197
Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
And if I were on the jury I wouldn't give him anything. His injuries are entirely from resisting a lawful order. The reality is the cops will apply the force needed to accomplish the objective--if you restrict the force you end up saying that anyone who resists too hard is immune to the law. The guy chose to resist, fell and got hurt. Too bad.
It was not a lawful order. And the objective was a commercial one.
simpletastes is offline  
Old Apr 10, 17, 5:44 pm
Join Date: Aug 2001
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Originally Posted by aCavalierInCoach View Post
It honestly doesn't matter how wrong this guy was -- he didn't deserve to be beaten, and the chain of responsibility here starts with United.
Wrong. The chain of responsibility starts with every person who books the lowest fare possible, which is what creates an environment of overbooking, code shares, and generally very cheap operations.
Joshua is offline  
Old Apr 10, 17, 5:44 pm
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 451
Originally Posted by seanp7 View Post
That's a serious suggestion?
What are you going to do if someone refuses IDB? Your choices at that point are either escalate to security (i.e. forcibly enforce IDB) or you try a little more carrot. I think using a few words wouldn't hurt at that point given the passenger has probably refused and is upset, before moving on.

That way it also helps when you pick the 5th passenger that while they may be upset, they understand they're being picked because of someone else. But I can see the negatives too... like the 5th passenger being upset at #4 and then throwing a punch on the way out.
dmo580 is offline  
Old Apr 10, 17, 5:44 pm
Join Date: Apr 2017
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Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
I'm not sure where you get your legal ideas from, but United's contract of carriage pretty clearly limits a customer's remedies to the price of their ticket for delays, cancellations, or denied boardings, other than otherwise required by law. IDBs are covered by law.
Okay. Now tell me where United's Contract of Carriage provides United the remedy of forcibly removing a passenger on an oversold flight to make room for another passenger?
Summa Cum Laude Touro Law Center is offline  
Old Apr 10, 17, 5:44 pm
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Canada
Posts: 564
Originally Posted by sullim4 View Post
UA is getting their punishment for this in the press. Argue all you want about whether UA or the passenger was in the right/wrong... this is a disaster for them.

I think FT's expectations for airline customer service are so low, that some of us are just numb to all of this. My workplace is abuzz about this and yet I'm not surprised in the least. This is exactly what I would have expected out of AA/DL/UA. I'm actually surprised he wasn't arrested, charged with a felony for being forcibly removed from the flight, and put on the national no-fly list. Mrs. sullim4 often wonders why I get so stressed when I fly... she apparently doesn't read enough FT.

I am no fan of FAA regulation but I think we are at a point where if you are on a plane, sitting in a seat with a boarding pass scanned as valid at the gate... that seat is yours unless you voluntarily give it up, or there's a weight/balance issue preventing the aircraft from leaving in which case you get IDB compensation. IDB otherwise should not even be in play.
I agree that scanning a pass implies a certain degree of finality, but on the other hand there could be the issue of someone checking in significantly later than another passenger of comparable status, etc, but who is physically aggressive at the gate, thus securing boarding priority based not on objective criteria but survival of the fittest. In other words, the risk of physical disturbances would be greater, not lesser.
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