United Airlines Flies Into Controversy

Forcibly removed passenger originally victim blamed

United Airlines (Image Source: news.com.au)
United Airlines (Image Source: news.com.au)

United Airlines recently caused themselves a controversy by forcibly removing a male passenger from their Chicago to Louisville flight (3411) that had been overbooked.

In a video made by a fellow passenger, a security officer can be seen pulling the passenger, identified as Dr David Dao, from his seat and then dragged along the aisle of the plane, visibly bleeding from the mouth.

Since the incident first occurred and the footage released, United Airlines went on the offence saying that the passenger was at fault for what happened because, initially when it was realized that the flight had been overbooked, passengers were offered a $400 voucher and a hotel voucher if they volunteered to take a different flight.

That failing, four passengers were selected at random to be removed, then asked to leave the plane, of which three did, but Dr. Dao did not, stating that ‘he had to be home the next day to treat patients’. That was when he was dragged off the plane.

But now, United CEO Oscar Munoz, who has issued three separate apologise for the incident, has said he “was left outraged and disturbed” by the events surrounding the 69-year-old passengers removal, further commenting in a statement, “It’s never too late to do the right thing. I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will make it right. No one should ever be mistreated this way”.

Also commenting on the controversy to The Huffington Post were several pilots who believe that ‘a simple move could have prevented the PR fiasco engulfing United Airlines’.

That simple move, the pilots believe, was to increase the numerical value of the voucher offered to passengers to voluntarily give up their seat from $400 to $800, with one pilot, Karlene Petit, saying, “Airline reps should’ve simply upped the amount of the voucher until someone volunteered on their own,

“Management could have made a PA and asked, ‘Who will give up their seat for $500?… $800?… $1,000?”, Petit continued, “Someone would have given up their seat for the right price”.

Mr Munoz has also promised a full policy review of how these situations are to be handled by April 30 and, as a result of this controversy and completely poor treatment of a passenger, shares in United Airline dropped by US$600 million (AU$800million).