Police drag bleeding man off United flight in the US because he refused to leave ‘overbooked’ plane
APRIL 11, 20178:51AM
A DOCTOR who refused to surrender his seat on an overbooked United Airlines flight in the US was dragged off the plane by security, according to passenger accounts and video.
The man was dragged off kicking and screaming when he refused to give up his seat — and was recorded by passengers outraged at his treatment, reports the New York Post.
The man, who some social media users said is a doctor, was pulled from his seat at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport before the flight to Louisville, Kentucky.
A short video posted by passenger Audra Bridges shows uniformed security personnel pulling the screaming man in front of horrified passengers.
“Oh my God! What are you doing?” one woman is heard saying.
“Look at what you did to him,” a man is then heard saying as the man — who suffered an injury to the mouth — is dragged along the aisle with his stomach exposed.
“Good work, way to go,” another passenger says derisively.
Passenger Tyler Bridges tweeted: “Not a good way to treat a doctor trying to get to work because they overbooked.”
After a furious backlash, United CEO Oscar Munoz ultimately released a statement.
“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologise for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened,” he said.
“We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”
Celebrities also took to social media to express their disgust.
“Having flown United last week, I feel very blessed to not be tweeting this message from a hospital bed,” actor Josh Gad tweeted.
“Getting on a United flight this morning. Excited to, I don’t know ... stay on?” added Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon.
Actor Kumail Nanjiani also had a go at the police who had attended the incident.
“So United sucks. But the Chicago police who dragged the man off the flight are also monsters,” he tweeted. “Police using unnecessary force again.”
In an earlier statement, a United spokesman said the flight had been overbooked.
“After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologise for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities,” the spokesman said.
Audra Bridges said passengers had been told at the gate that United offered US$400 (A$530) and a hotel stay for a volunteer who would agree to take another flight the following day, the Courier-Journal of Louisville reported.
Passengers were told the flight would not take off until the crew had seats, Bridges said, and the offer was increased to US$800 (A$1000), but no one took up the offer.
At that point, she said, a manager said a computer would select four passengers to be removed. One couple was selected first and left the airliner, she said, before the man in the video was confronted.
The man said he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning and became “very upset,” she said. But the manager told him that security would remove him if he didn’t budge.
After two security guards tried to talk him into leaving his seat, a third arrived and threw the passenger against the armrest before the guards dragged him out of the plane.
But the man managed to get back on the aircraft and ran to the back of the plane, Bridges said.
A medical crew arrived to treat the bloodied man, while other passengers were told to get off so staff could “tidy up” the plane.
“Everyone was shocked and appalled,” Bridges told the paper. “There were several children on the flight as well that were very upset.”
The flight was delayed about two hours before its flight to Louisville.
This story was originally published in the New York Post and is reprinted with permission
How do you overbook a flight? Doesn't the software stop this happening?