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Video of passenger getting dragged off flight in Chicago sparks uproar

66 Comments
By CARYN ROUSSEAU and DAVID KOENIG

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66 Comments
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Do not fly United. Fly united and resist the oligarchy. Maybe do not fly at all, all things considered.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Clearly the man wanted to get home. Hope he sues United and the police for $100K in "emotional damages."

Seems the flight was NOT overbooked at all, if they were trying to put 4 employees on it. Perhaps we need an easier forced off compensation package - I'm thinking $5K for domestic flights and $10K for international.

People with "reserved" seating should have a right to a seat, period. That's kinda the point of a reservation. If I'm allowed to walk up, get on a plane and pay cash for a flight, then I can understand there not being a seat available, but with a reservation - that's a completely different thing.

I've never volunteered to be bumped. The $500 offers just weren't sufficient to be worth the inconvenience. For $5K, I'd volunteer almost every time.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

"Airlines are allowed to sell more tickets than there are seats on the plane, and they routinely overbook flights because some people do not show up."

That's a great customer service policy. So what if some don't show up? They've paid for a seat, lost that money and that's their choice. Greedy, risk-taking airlines.....

15 ( +15 / -0 )

That's really outrageous.

Hope he sues United and the police for $100K in "emotional damages."

It's in the US, I hope he'll make them pay way more than that !

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Apparently the United workers showed up late and then were allowed to kick people off who already boarded.

I think overbooking practices are BS, but they exist.

Still, the overbooking situation is different with workers showing up out of the blue to kick people a flight they have paid for and made reservations for.

United will be paying a lot in lost revenue.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Disgusting. UA's mealy mouthed statement just shows the utter contempt they have for their passengers. Not even an apology.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I stopped flying United years ago because of their dirty planes and cranky flight attendants, and now have another reason I'll never fly with them again. Disgusting.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

That is disgusting. This guy could probably sue for a few million here

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Never liked the mafia airline industry, especially the US carriers are the absolute worst, once again, they show how out of control incompetent and mismanaged these people are. I hope that guy sues for every penny and I hope these people wake up and realize, using mafia thug tactics completely destroying their reputation as well as their companies.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

"We wanted to get our customers to their destinations.”

Funny way of showing it, by FORCING them off a plane to make room for your own employees. And, by the way, United, did your passengers make it to where they were going on time? Didn't they all have to get off in the end and the plane was delayed for three hours?

Bravo, United! Hope the man sues.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

This is outrageous! I say boycott United and it's co-airlines for good. The United staff should have to give way to paying customers. Why not fly your United employees on another airline or maybe even by Greyhound bus. The CEO and top management should be fired even if they did not condone because ultimately the top manages the bottom. To allow this type of brutality and don't tell me that they don't approve is absurd. Also take away the golden parachutes.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

If they had to bump passengers, why couldn't they at least do it BEFORE the boarding? It's even absurd when you know it's not even an over-booking problem, it's an employees-over-customers problem. They didn't even offer a higher amount of money for volunteers. Policies they thought would save a few bucks will end up costing them a fortune.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

"using mafia thug tactics "

Watching the video, it's exactly that.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Well, bumping at check-in is appalling, and is morally reprehensible. Deciding to remove passengers after boarding is absolutely repellent. The flight was full, but it was not overbooked until the company decided to load four more people (its own employees) after boarding. That's insane, and should not be allowed. I object to bumping, but at least at check-in there may be other options. No airline should be able to evict passengers after boarding. That's unacceptable, should be illegal, and I hope this man sues them for a fortune and forces new laws into place that prevent this from ever happening again.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

United Airlines has crossed a line that it will forever regret

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Airlines overbooking flights in hopes of people canceling? Sounds like a genius plan!! :-/

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Fly the Unfriendly Skies of United Airlines!

If you're unhappy with United, then there's always Northworst.

Just came back from the U.S. on United and some of their employees often come across as insensitive, not all of them (Thank goodness!), but a lot of them keep the unfriendly skies reputation very much alive.

My best experience in recent memory was with KLM, unfortunately they aren't a U.S. carrier.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I have often seen US airlines offering vouchers for those prepared to take another flight. I don't want vouchers: I want cash, and lots of it.

These airlines have all sorts of restrictive rules preventing people from changing their flight, changing the name on the ticket etc. and some of them even charge people for missing their flight. Yet they think they can haul a paying customer off of a flight as and when they feel like it. I hope the guy in this case sues for massive sums as it's clear from the statements made by United that they do not regret what they have done in the slightest. The CEO is even commending his employees for roughing up a customer. He could have lent them his personal jet if it was so important that they be in Louisville that evening.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

To solve these problems airlines MUST up their offers to get volunteers to make it worth their while with options of vouchers & cash.

The problem is the airlines are STUPID pennywise, pound foolish, stupidly short term ""thinking"" this will cost UA a TON of lost revenue for a while, totally daft!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

This disturbing incident comes weeks after the infamous leggings incident. United needs to remember who they work for, which is the customers. They are nothing without them. If they keep giving the public reasons to not use their airline, then they will go bankrupt in no time.

It sucks that I booked a flight with them last month for this upcoming golden week.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@theFU. The only thing I can disagree with you about is the amount of money. I saw the video. The passenger should get millions. Cannot believe what I saw. Might as call United "Jackboot Airlines."

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I can't believe what I've read. The poor man, poor fellow passengers, and poor employees and police who have been radicalized by a brutal system.

What's next: tasered if you complain?

The absolute worst customer service experiences I've ever had were on US carriers or in the US itself, and this is not in character with the vast bulk of Americans I encounter on this planet.

Now, with visitors now having to endure all sorts of harrowingly invasive practices like interrogation, revealing social media passwords and smartphone PINs, there's no way I would abuse my family by vacationing in the US.

Sorry, America. It's not you. It's the regime.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

So, PAYING PASSENGERS were removed from the plane so that STAFF could fly? Sorry, but that is wrong on so many levels. As for the manner in which this was handled... shocking.

Wasn't United the airline that refused little girls because they were in leggings instead of dresses?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Ok, well, I know that I'm never flying with this crap airline. But this article underscores a more serious problem: which is that the US is turning into a police state. Dragging passengers off the plane so that staff could take their place?? Not even George Orwelle's 1984 came this close...

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Crazy video. I would have taken the $1,000 and the hotel coupon. If the passenger could prove he was a doctor then another passenger should have selected. The airline staff probably needed to get to an airport to work a plane and not just free time travel. I won't use this airline.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's so obvious. Overbooked. Well, then the people who are seated already can stay, and the ones not seated get bumped. How hard is that to figure out? Isn't it a lot easier to bump someone ho isn't even on the plane yet? What am I missing?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Like some stated above, I, too, don't fly United anymore. Too many bad experiences with its nasty personnel. Saw the video ... and thought it was, well, awful. Yep ... yet another reason not to fly United ...

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Have you guys read the CEO's "apology"? The company is just digging itself in deeper and deeper.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The incident risks a backlash against United from passengers who could boycott the airline as the busy summer travel season is about to begin. nonsense. People will fly whoever can get them to their destination. Like Ryanair that routinely maltreats its passengers. United stock price was up yesterday despite this.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

smithinjapanApr. 11, 2017 - 04:51PM JST Have you guys read the CEO's "apology"? The company is just digging itself in deeper and deeper.

You got to love that one too : 'Earlier, United 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."'

1 ( +1 / -0 )

According to the following article United needed to get 4 crew members to Louisville to operate a flight the next day:

http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2017/04/10/ceo-oscar-munoz-making-uniteds-problem-doctor-dragged-off-flight-even-worse/

However their CEO, Oscar Munoz, really did mess things up further with the letter that he wrote, making a bad situation ever worse for the Airlines reputation - perhaps it should be questioned whether he remains suitable to represent and lead the Airline going forward ?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

United Airlines’ parent company CEO Oscar Munoz late Monday issued a letter defending his employees, saying the passenger was being “disruptive and belligerent.”

THIS is exactly why airline staff can be so rude to people with almost zero comeback, anything you say back to them can be twisted as being disruptive and belligerent. The guy was quite within his rights to be upset, he paid, was seated and told to get off through no fault of his own. The airline and it's staff we're quite clearly the ones being disruptive and belligerent!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

What a big baby.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Unfortunately, airlines are allowed to kick paying passengers off - if ya read the fine print of those tickets

Whether or not they should though, is another matter

When not enough passengers volunteered to leave the plane in exchange for $800 vouchers, United Airlines should had looked for another way to get their staff workers to their assignment (who do need to go to their destination in order for their assigned plane to fly - otherwise they have to cancel that other flight and thus inconvenience those other passengers due to a cancelled flight)

Maybe randomly select another, more amenable passenger?

Wasn't United the airline that refused little girls because they were in leggings instead of dresses?

No, regular paying passengers are allowed to wear leggings - the girl was flying on an Employee's Discount ticket program (due to a relative working for the company) and under the dress code of that program

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If we beleive the following, then the "Asian" Doctor who was brutally thrown off the plane will have no legal recourse at all.

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/united-video-scandal-law/522552/

United (and other Airlines) can do what they please to their passengers.

The only way people can show their disapproval of this situation is to avoid where possible this Airline - hit them where it hurts (in their pockets). Then hopefully the Shareholders will realize that the current CEO needs replacing - which according to his track record, looks about the right time for his next move...

http://www.nndb.com/people/412/000127031/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hopefully not only the abused passenger will sue but most of the rest will sue for the emotional distress caused by witnessing the appalling treatment of a passenger, not to mention the fear for their own personal safety!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Airlines have been getting away with it for a while now. The fuel surcharge tax that has eradicated discounted ticket prices and remains even when the price of fuel is low. And the overaggressive approach to fare-paying customers using terrorism as a cover for abusive service.

Some years ago I took a Virgin Atlantic flight from Narita. During the flight I buzzed for some water and after no response got out of my seat at the same time as the turbulence light went on. Some aggressive macho-type male trolley dolly told me in no uncertain terms to get back in my seat. You have no choice unless you want to be handcuffed for the remainder of a long haul flight.

The legalities for good enough reasons of using handcuffs and inflight arrests should be challenged in court.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

$800 Travel Voucher, not cash?? I hope United lose millions in the following lawsuit this time. hope they fires the executives and amends the aviation law. guess those greedy corporate peeps at the top are flying private every time and do not care about their paying customer.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The embarrassing incident spiraled out of control from a common air travel issue— an overbooked flight. United was trying to make room for four employees of a partner airline, meaning four people had to get off the flight to Louisville.

He was bumped for employees of a "partner airline." Obviously United cares more about other airlines than their own paying customers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am pretty sure a huge law suite is coming. There are plenty of lawyers in US to do those things. Long done is the motto of client first. An employee should never has higher boarding priority than its customers regardless of his/her ranks in the company.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Several years ago I flew United to Japan using my ANA mileage, with a connection in SF. The flight from NY was running late so the airline provided a shuttle to get us to the other terminal quickly. It was me (American) and a group of about 30 Japanese passengers. We got dropped off at a side door and were told an airline employee would meet us at the at the head of the stairs to help us get to our gate. So far so good.

Unfortunately there was no employee waiting for us. I scanned the area in a mild panic, we only had minutes to catch our flight. I spotted a gate with Tokyo posted on the board. We all rushed towards it. It was empty except for one UAL employee working at the counter. I tried to explain our situation. The woman said she was not open. I asked her if she could point us to the right gate. She repeated she was not open. I told her I understood but I tried again to get her to appreciate our situation, that we needed assistance. She told me to step away from the counter or she would call the police! That set me off.

I raised my voice in anger and implored her to please call the police. I asked her what she would tell them? That I was demanding customer service. I was livid. All the Japanese passengers stood quietly behind me shocked. I assume at both the lousy customer service but also at my emotional response to being threatened with the police.

At this point my voice got the attention of a supervisor in the back. He came out to inquire. The original Servive agent completely changed her tune and story and tried to make out she was helping us all along. The supervisor took over and figured out by now we had missed our connection. He did bump me up a class which was nice. But I remembered why I only fly ANA to Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

United is going to be very sorry they did this.

TigersTokyoDome: "male trolley dolly"

Har!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@mmdk:: you are wrong. There are many Asian doctors in USA where there is no white doctors. Don't you know that ?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A few months back I had to travel with UA to California. Absolutely crap service. It's not so much the cabin crew being American. It's the appalling level of training. The useless air stewardess was Japanese. Unfortunately, ANA is taking advantage of the fact that many people don't want to travel with American airlines or JAL, and have seen fit to increase their prices.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

United Breaks Guitars, and apparently roughs up passengers as well. Worse than Delta?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A perfectly delightful experience on a Japanese carrier. But crossing the barrier into the US was like entering an animal farm. The crude, rude, insensitive, and indifferent American behavior was suddenly THERE AGAIN and we just knew how to behave once more.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There is a need to break up these airlines which have damaged free competition since all of the mergers the past 10 years.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

United Breaks Guitars. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo Now they're breaking people.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Know the law and don't be stupid. By law and the fine print when you buy the ticket, you can be removed. $1350 is the maximum the airline can go to pay for the inconvenience. Raise your hand to volunteer, but say that you want it in cash. Do not accept a voucher for future flights. The flight attendant knows the law, too. Don't be stupid. If you have been convicted of a crime (read the latest on the "doctor") and you are selected, quietly get off the plane. A nail that sticks up gets hammered down. United is excellent, especially if you use its credit card for tickets. Priority boarding and the free lounge for long layovers are a plus.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

There is a right way to screw your customers and the wrong way.

If its about profits and filling planes, lets see how profitable this ordeal is for ya UA!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@serendipidity "That's a great customer service policy. So what if some don't show up? They've paid for a seat, lost that money and that's their choice. Greedy, risk-taking airlines....."

People rarely lose their money. Often, when people don't show up it is because they are late to the airport. They try to check in past the cut off time, they are not allowed, they then have to go and rebook their flight. The airline then flies without a passenger in that seat, thereby loosing the revenue they would have gotten, but that revenue has been passed on to another flight. The person rebooking their flight usually has to pay a service charge to change the booking. They rarely lose their money, but that doesn't help fill the seat that their error in judgement in getting to the airport resulted in. So, the company oversells the flight, knowing that some people will not make it on the plane.

Not saying I agree with that practice. Hotels also do this quite routinely. So, I guess the option is to not allow people to rebook or change their flights (up until a certain cutoff I suppose, say a week prior to flying?) without paying for a brand new ticket at whatever rate appears (probably a very high one if it's on the day of the flight). All monies paid for the expired ticket would be non-refundable. Or, they keep the current system and occasionally have to deal with the situation where they're caught with their pants down and too many people on the flight, as we have here. I don't think people would like the former (in the event they miss their flight or need to change a booking) and rarely have to deal with the latter, so it is probably the least painful of the two options.

Personally, I'd rather see the former take place. You miss the flight and it's bye bye fare. Tough sh!t. You're out of luck, but that's not usually what happens. People would be up in arms if they had to pay twice because a traffic jam made them late. Shoulda left earlier.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The victim is 69yrs ooold doctor. all mea reported.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

barbarian behavior. can not believe the ceo stood up for this incident afterward. he should really be fired. without passenger airline will bankrupt. does he has common sense to issue an apology?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Chinese gov't ordered its citizens not to ride this airline.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Next, can we expect passengers to "stand up" to the airline and refuse?

I can see it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Overbooked. Well, then the people who are seated already can stay, and the ones not seated get bumped. How hard is that to figure out? Isn't it a lot easier to bump someone ho isn't even on the plane yet? What am I missing?"

You are missing United "logic" lol

Oh my... United is in trouble..

Judge Andrew Napolitano on the United passenger incident

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_JqyATeHok

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Fifty shades of UA?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've flown UA a few times to Asia - never had any issues. Actually a friend missed his flight and they booked him on the next one out, no extra charge, so they aren't all bad or evil.

Generally fly Delta due to my status with it. As long as I'm not back of the bus, the treatment hasn't been bad. Occasionally, they surprise me with extra comfort or upgrades or even just a pleasant crew.

The passenger involved is probably embarrassed by the video and he doesn't have a legal leg as far as being removed from the flight, but he should be able to negotiate a reasonable payment from UA just to shut up and not go on every morning show and write a book about the lawsuit.

This time (and probably 50 times a day, somewhere) UA screwed up. They should take their lumps.

I've organized banquets for non-profits with reservations. We had a 5-10% no-show problem. At that point, most hotels/rooms providing food have a +10% accommodation rule - they can make up to 10% more meals than we'd say for the same price. To avoid wasting money, through statistics, we became very good at predicting the actual number of people that would show. In 4 yrs, we were short once - statistics aren't perfect after all - so I didn't get a meal that night. The point is that airlines are great at statistics too.

They were fine until 4 unexpected, extra people, from a different partner showed up VERY LATE. They probably have a contract which says they must provide seats. The gate people screwed up. It is that simple.

I see that Canada is talking about a law to protect passengers. They have about 50 complaints to the govt annually for being bumped. Statistics says that 500 people are really mad, but only 50 enough to complain to the govt.

Anyway, compensation for bumps clearly isn't sufficient when they don't get any takers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have often criticized the degrading service standards of Asian carriers, but this video totally made me realize how much I have taken ANA, JAL, SIngapore, etc for granted. Compared to United, Asian carriers pamper and spoil the passengers.

What United did is completely unacceptable! Overbooking flights has become common practice for them, and giving priority to United employees over paying customers is just WRONG at so many levels. But this really takes the cake. Physically assaulting a passenger after he refused to VOLUNTEER (please understand what this word means fricken UNITED!!!) to give up his seat. He should sue sue sue and we need to put this airlines out of business!!

I have rarely used United, but after this, I will never ..EVER use United EVER!! I would rather be stranded somewhere if United is my only option to get to where I need to go. I hope that Star Alliance divorce themselves from this horrible company, otherwise I may need to rethink using any of their carriers

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Overbooking is common on all US airlines and probably internationally as well. I am affiliated with United (although often go ANA) because the terms of their award travel are better than Delta or American, as well as the convenience of living near Chicago which happens to be the largest hub airport and the only one in the midwest. Yes Japanese airlines are more service oriented, although United has also improved markedly on most rankings in the last few years, to the point of turning a blind eye to bad, even dangerous, customer behavior.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Overbooking should NEVER happen. If a passenger doesn't make his/her flight, they RARELY get refunded so that seat is paid for regardless of whether someone is physically in it or not. There is no reason to overbook; this is just more corporate greed, trying to profit off of no shows. Again, unacceptable!!!! But what's more unacceptable is giving a paid seat to an employee rather the passenger who rightfully paid for it. I know that they get compensated, but often times the compensation is in the form of vouchers for future flights on their airlines (which is nonsense!) They should get a free flight to their intended destination on a later flight, if its that important for people to give up their flight in favor of employees.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So far this is costing United Airlines $800 million in value and US shareholders can/will also sue for loss of value.

This Dr could not miss this flight and didn't want the worry of trying to find another (over booked?) flight. Could have outright offered cash on the spot for another passenger to be bumped and explained his situation.

-He was bumped for 4 employees of another (affiliated?) airline = Not bumped for United Employees. =Probably a contract between United and others that they must accept these extra passengers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Buy UAL stock as fast as you can. It is at its bottom level, and will reward investors by the same amount as the loss. Volatility is music to the the ears of Wall Street. The doctor now has more publicity than he ever wanted. Too late, he should have got up, shut up, and dropped out of the situation. Read the rules next time before you buy a ticket on ANY airline.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I can't believe this happened. Used to fly to America often and I never saw this kind in any airport or airlines in America. They were at least nice back then.

Maybe one of the things is that, since 911 airlines and airport police officers consider themselves almighty above the law when it comes to "security".

Shame no vacation in Hawaii, Las Vegas or San Diego...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am absolutely not condoning what happened to this man or how United handled it because it was completely unnecessary an appalling but first, United is not even the most egregious carrier when it comes to bumping paid customers. Delta leads in the numbers of passengers voluntarily bumped and Southwest with the most involuntary bumps.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/travel/ct-which-airlines-are-most-likely-to-bump-you-20170413-story.html

Second, like it or not, for the vast majority of us, the days of glamorous air travel well are over, if they ever existed for most of us anyway. Given that, the best thing you can do is to arm yourself with the knowledge of your rights if you are bumped.

http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2017/04/11/what-are-your-rights-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight/

I don't like flying, partly just because I'm scared to fly, partly because it's very often a physically uncomfortable experience and partly because it's stressful. Not only is everyone on edge since 9/11 and Richard Reid but also because airline staff is overworked, underpaid and underappreciated. I have a family member who works for an airline and the stories she tells about rude, demanding and outright ignorant customers would shock you. Having to deal with that day in and day out would wear on most of us.Yes, they've chosen the job and could quit, which many do, but it wouldn't kill people to show a little kindness, respect and patience towards the people who work for the airlines.

The decision made on last Sunday's flight was a managerial decision and the result of poor policy and planning. You can boycott United if you want but for many people, that's not really an option due to flight routes and costs. I can't boycott them for the reasons stated so I've written to the CEO to let him know how I feel about their bumping policy and customer service in general. Maybe if he gets enough emails, postcards and slams on social media it will do some good.

http://www.ceoemail.com/s.php?id=ceo-10864

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Overbooking should be prohibited. There is no reason to overbook, since the airline has supposedly filled every seat with a PAID customer. Standby is the way for the airlines to make extra money if they wish, since they can re-sell a seat left vacant by a "no show".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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