by UPI11 Apr 2017
April 11 (UPI) — In an email to employees, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said flight crew used proper protocols to address a “disruptive and belligerent” passenger who was dragged off a plane by police.
The incident, which was captured on several videos posted on social media, occurred on the overbooked United Express Flight 3411 flying from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Ky., on Sunday.
The passenger’s identity has not been confirmed but some media have reported he is a Chinese national.
In the videos, a Chicago Aviation Security Officer in plain clothes and two in uniform are seen talking to a man sitting in a window seat. Before long, the officer in plain clothes wrestles the man out from the seat and he is dragged along the floor.
Munoz said that when flight crew asked the passenger to relinquish his seat, the man “raised his voice and refused to comply.” Munoz said each time flight crew asked him to vacate the seat, the passenger “refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.”
Munoz said the crew was “left with no choice” but to call security officers to assist in removing him from the flight.
“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,” Munoz wrote in the letter. “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.”
Chicago aviation officials placed an officer on leave after the incident.
“The incident on United Flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department,” the Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement.
United Airlines spokesman Charlie Hobart said the airline sought volunteers to exit the overbooked flight for compensation, but none stepped forward.
United then chose four passengers to be bumped and all but one left without issue.
Hobart said, “We had asked several times, politely” for the man in the video to relinquish his seat before force was used.
United Airlines has been heavily criticized by the public for its handling of the incident.
“This could be me or you next time. Shame on United who broke customer trust and instigated this. Shame on the airport cops. Cowardly assault,” filmmaker Ava DuVernay said in a statement.
@United overbook #flight3411 and decided to force random passengers off the plane. Here’s how they did it: pic.twitter.com/QfefM8X2cW— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017