On Sunday night, a Chicago aviation police officer forcibly removed a passenger out of his seat on United Express Flight 3411 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The April 9th flight was headed to Louisville, Kentucky. The aviation police officer yanked the passenger out of his seat and dragged him down the aisle of the plane after he refused to give up his seat for a crew member flying to another airport to staff another flight. The bleeding and dazed passenger was identified as Dr. David Dao, a Vietnamese physician in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Since passenger videos of the incident were posted on social media and gone viral, it’s been a public relations mess for United Airlines and a lesson on what airlines can do when customers buy an airline ticket and board their flight.
“The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses for 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.” wrote Oscar Munoz, United Airlines CEO in a statement on April 11th.
Munoz also stated the airline will thoroughly review how it moves crews to their flights, incentive policies for passengers who volunteer to give up their seats and how the airline handles overbooked flights. It also will examine United Airlines partnership with airport authorities and local law enforcement.
Munoz promised to do better and will release the results of the review by April 30th.
Munoz also said all passengers on flight 3411 will get a full ticket refund and compensated in an interview on “Good Morning America” this week.
The Chicago Tribune reports 3 employees of the Chicago Aviation Authority are on administrative leave.
Dao is being treated for injuries and has hired 2 attorneys, including attorney Thomas Demetrio. USA Today reports Dao’s daughter and Dr. Dao’s attorney will speak out at a news conference this morning.
According to a former and retired United Airlines Pilot and a United pilot’s wife, airport police is normally notified when passengers don’t obey the crew’s instructions and requests. They also pointed out that airports and airplanes are federal restricted areas subject to federal Department of Transportation and Homeland Security regulations. A purchased airline ticket also is a contract between the customer and the airline.