America’s third largest airline United Airlines has been forced to apologize after the video of a 69-year old Asian man being violently dragged from the plane surfaced. Flight 3411 was leaving Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky.
In what started off as a ‘not-so-easy’ issue has turned into one of the worst public relations disaster and international nightmare that any company would like to face. United Airlines finds itself in yet another customer-related disaster after the 69-year old Asian man was manhandled, dragged and forcibly removed from the plane surfaced.
The man, who has since been identified as David Dao, a medical doctor from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, had been randomly selected together with 3 other passengers to be bumped off the flight to make way for the 4 airline staff. The other passengers complied but he refused.
Witnesses on the plane say the airline offered compensation of up to $800 including hotel accommodation for an overnight stay to catch the next flight the following day and he still refused. It was his refusal that prompted the staff to call the local Aviation Security to assist with his removal.
Unite Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz issued a statement calling the entire incident “upsetting” and apologized for having to “reaccommodate customers” but without explicitly addressing the forceful removal of the 69-year old man.
In his statement, Mr. Munoz defended the airline staff and accused the passenger of being “disruptive” and “belligerent”. He went on to state that his employees were “left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officer to assist in removing the customer from the flight.”
After coming under intense criticism in what was perceived as the company “blaming the victim”, the company was forced to offer a second apology to clean up the mess. In his second apology CEO Munoz tweeted, “I’m sorry. We fill fix this” then inserted the following:
According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, one of the security officer involved in removing the man from the plane has been “placed on leave.” The department also said it would carry out a review into the incident, which it said was not in accordance with the Department’s “standard operating procedure”.
The US Department of Transportation is now reviewing whether United Airlines complied with rules on overbooking.
United Airlines is no stranger to controversy. A few weeks ago, the company was ridiculed on social media after it refused two teenage girls to board their flight because they were wearing leggings.
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