This is apparently how United Airlines deals with overbooked flights.
Last month, United Airlines faced an onslaught of bad press and social-media backlash when it declined to let two female passengers board a flight because they were wearing leggings, which is apparently in violation of the airline’s dress code for passengers flying as “pass travelers,” a perk allowing employees to fly standby for free. Now, the company appears to be employing the Trump method of moving on from a scandal: creating another. On Sunday night, video emerged of police dragging a ticketed passenger off of a flight by the arms and legs after the man declined to give up his seat. By Monday morning, the footage had gone viral.
United had reportedly overbooked the flight, and needed four people to leave so that it could transport four airline staff who were needed on another flight from Louisville. But when nobody took the airline up on its offer of $800 and a free hotel stay to get another flight the next day, things took a turn. According to Audra Bridges, the woman who posted the footage to her Facebook page Sunday night, United management came onto the flight and “used a computer to randomly select four passengers who would be removed from that trip.” One couple went willingly, but the man in the video, who claimed to be a doctor and said he needed to see patients the next morning, said he would be contacting his lawyer. Things got quite a bit worse from there:
— Tom Stokes (@SportsPlusShow) April 10, 2017
United, which apparently has the world’s worst public relations team on staff, later issued a statement saying: “Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was 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 apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.” So they’re sorry for the “overbook situation” but not the ”dragging a ticketed passenger off a plane by the arms and legs situation.”
United C.E.O. Oscar Munoz released a statement on Twitter saying: “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize 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. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”