Video of a man being dragged out of a United Airlines flight in Chicago has gone viral and has given the airline a huge public relations headache.
The Sunday flight from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked so the flight crew asked passengers to voluntarily take another flight, according to the airline. Airlines often offer free tickets or some financial compensation to such volunteers.
“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,” according to a statement from United to WHAS TV in Chicago. “We apologize for the overbook situation.”
No one volunteered, so the airline chose four people at random to leave the flight.
One passenger, Audra Bridges,who posted video of the incident, told the USA Today newspaper that the man in the video was “very upset” when he was chosen. He reportedly refused, saying he was a doctor who needed to get home that night so that he could see patients the next morning.
Bridges told the paper the man was warned that security would be called if he refused to leave. She said security then threw the man against the armrest and dragged him off the plane.He later came back on the plane and appeared bloody and disoriented, Bridges said.
As the man was dragged out, other passengers were noticeably upset.
"Everyone was shocked and appalled," Bridges said. "There were several children on the flight as well that were very upset."
The flight ended up being delayed by about two hours.
The CEO of United Airlines posted a statement on Twitter about the incident.
"This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United,” wrote CEO Oscar Munoz. “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."