UPDATE: According to Fox News, the CEO of United Airlines have identified the officers involved as Chicago Aviation Security Officers even though the United Airlines spokesman said the Chicago Police Department had been called.
United Airlines has sparked outrage from many viewers of viral cellphone videos showing police officers dragging a bleeding passenger off an overbooked flight. But a different side of the story is emerging as well.
According to Louisville’s Courier-Journal, the airline overbooked a Louisville-bound flight waiting to leave from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.
As passengers boarded the plane, they were offered $400 and hotel stay if they chose to take a later flight instead. But after the plane filled up, the airline announced that it needed four people to take a different flight because there weren’t enough seats left for four crew members who needed to get to Louisville.
After airline employees offered $800 but nobody volunteered, an airline manager announced that four people would be chosen at random from the flight list to leave.
Three of the passengers selected left the plane, but one man refused, according to the Washington Post.
“He says, ‘Nope. I’m not getting off the flight. I’m a doctor and have to see patients tomorrow morning,’” recalled passenger Tyler Bridges.
He then got into a shouting match with the manager, saying, “More or less, ‘I’m being selected because I’m Chinese,’” according to Bridges.
Then three Chicago Police Department officers boarded the plane and began dragging the uncooperative man down the aisle by his arms as passengers expressed dismay at the officers and filmed the incident.
Bridges says the man was injured by the officers pulling him from his seat. The video shows the man hanging onto the seatback.
“It looked like it knocked him out,” he said. “His nose was bloody.”
The man’s face may have hit his armrest when he was being dragged out of his seat.
“What are you doing? No! This is wrong,” another passenger exclaimed as others rebuked the officers’ and airlines’ actions.
A second video shows the deplaned passenger then running back down the aisle, exclaiming repeatedly, “I have to go home. I’ve have to go home.”
Bridges said at that point, a guardian for a group of high school students on the plane disgustedly had all of her students get up and leave the plane.
Eventually, the plane was cleared entirely of passengers, the Chinese man was taken off in a stretcher, and everyone was brought back onto the plane.
The three-hour late flight was “pretty tense,” recalled Bridges.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz released an apologetic statement 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."
United Airlines spokesman Charlie Hobart had a different tone, saying, "We followed the right procedures. That plane had to depart. We wanted to get our customers to their destinations, and when one gentleman refused to get off the aircraft, we had to call the Chicago Police Department."
The incident has sparked a nationwide debate, with some people pointing the airline had a legal right to do what they did while others are upset at what they saw as brutal treatment by the police officers.
And regardless of whether United responded properly according to their policies, the wave of publicly opinion has very negatively turned against them Monday.
What do you think of this?