Aviation

Assaulted passenger was “disruptive & belligerent”: United CEO

Hannah Edensor

Hannah Edensor

It was appalling news yesterday when we learnt that a paying customer onboard an overbooked United Airlines flight was physically dragged off the plane, but apparently it gets worse.

United CEO Oscar Munoz started addressing the situation with a very crappy attempt at an apology for “re-accommodating passengers” (really?), clearly unaware of how serious the backlash would soon be.

And now, there’s reports of an internal email circulating that blamed the passenger – who has been identified as 69-year old grandfather and doctor David Dao – for the incident.

Per Twitter user Ryan Ruggiero, a letter to airline crew said, “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.

“Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this.

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.

“I do, however, believe there are lessons we can learn from this experience, and we are taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding this incident.”

In his recount of the incident to staff, Munoz said that when approached about disembarking the flight, Dr Dao “raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions”.

He was approached a few more times…and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent. Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight.”

Munoz said the officers were “unable to gain his cooperation” and “physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist – running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials”.

Unsurprisingly, the share price of United Airlines plummeted overnight, dropping by over two per cent, while a number of Twitter users have voiced their disgust at the incident. Emirates is also taking a jab at the airline and using it to promote its own brand.

Given United’s motto is “Fly the friendly skies”, this whole thing is pretty ironic.

In addition, the video footage of the man being dragged off with blood on his face has been viewed more than 210 million times on China’s popular Twitter-like site Weibo, with many perceiving an ethnic bias of the doctor and calling for a boycott.

Given United flies more non-stop US-China flights to more cities in China than any other airline, this could definitely come back to bite them in the behind.

Since his pathetic attempt at an apology, Munoz has since issued a new statement that takes “full responsibility” for the incident and promises to do better in the future.

Things don’t look much better on social media either, with mentions of the brand skyrocketing, and most of these mentions negative. And we thought the leggings debacle was bad.

united-airlines-mentions-by-day-1 united-airlines-sentiment

Here’s some of the Twitter backlash, and for the record, the Chicago Police Department’s response was “he fell”.

 

Yesterday, Munoz had issued a statement that said, “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologise for having to re-accommodate these customers.”

 

 


SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

2 responses to “Assaulted passenger was “disruptive & belligerent”: United CEO”

  1. far out United are very dumb & what about their PR company ? They should be sacked immediately. Making a bad situation worse. Why was it when everyone seated on aircraft United finally “discovered” they needed 4 seats for crew ?
    United should make a BIG public apology & say their policies are wrong & give Dao & his family 1st class tickets to anywhere they want to go.

  2. I would like to know about the other three passengers who had to disembark, whether they went calmly or caused issues. This will add more intrigue to the story.

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