Dr. Dao, Famous For Being Dragged Off A Plane, Is Publishing A Book

Filed Under: Media, United

There are viral airline stories, and then there’s the story of Dr. David Dao, who was dragged off a United Express flight in 2017.

The flight ended up being overbooked and he refused to give up his seat after already seated. So the airline called the airport police to drag him off the plane. However, he wouldn’t give up his seat until he was literally unconscious, at which point he was bloodily dragged down the aisle. I don’t think there’s a single airline story ever that captured as much attention as this one.

In many ways the event changed the airline industry. It caused airlines to change how they overbook flights, and in some ways also caused them to change their approach to customer service, realizing that any cell phone video captured on a plane could turn into the next Dr. Dao incident. United also had to eat crow, after the company’s CEO claimed that Dr. Dao was simply being “reaccommodated” on another flight.

Dr. Dao reached an undisclosed settlement with United, and while the details aren’t public, it’s believed by many that it could have been in the eight figures.

Well, this isn’t the last we’ll hear of of Dr. Dao, apparently. On February 16, 2021, Dr. Dao will be publishing a 236-page book, entitled “Dragged Off: Refusing to Give Up My Seat on the Way to the American Dream.”

Here’s how the book is described:

A Vietnemese Refugee, a Viral Video, and the United Airlines Scandal That Started It All

Dr. David Dao was dragged off United Express Flight 3411 on April 9, 2017 after refusing to give up his seat. In the tradition of contemporary immigrant stories comes a personal narrative of the many small but significant acts of racial discrimination faced on the way to the American Dream.

The unseen effects of discrimination. The United Airlines scandal of 2017 garnered over a million views on YouTube. A result of an overbooking overlook, security officials forcibly removed Dr. Dao after refusing to give up his seat. He awoke in the hospital to a concussion, a broken nose, several broken teeth, and worldwide attention. Things aren’t always fair for an immigrant, but according to Dr. Dao, you can prevail if you firmly advocate for yourself.

A response to a lifetime of oppressive acts. Why was Dr. Dao so adamant on his right to a seat? His entire life had led to that moment. A Vietnamese refugee, he fled his home country during the fall of Saigon. He was stranded in the Indian Ocean, immigrated to the United States, enrolled in medical school for a second time, built a practice, and started a family─all the while battling the effects of discrimination and what he had to embrace as a result. This is his story.

This should be an interesting one. I imagine we still won’t find out any details of the settlement, but the narrative sure is something (I won’t say a lot more)…

(Tip of the hat to WandrMe)

  1. Further perpetuation of our victim state. Now it’s a racial thing? Breaks my heart this trespasser received any money. He should have been sued for delaying the flight and arrested for criminal trespassing. United only coughed up the cash to make the publicity nightmare go away, even though Dao was in the wrong. He’s no Rosa Parks.

    Laughing at the book’s tag line. He’s admitting the American dream has now been reduced to playing the race/victim card and suing for millions. What a soulless p.o.s.

  2. And what perfect timing, release right around the same time another (this time deceased) person was dragged off a United flight at MSY!

  3. How do we know he was discriminating because of his race? Typically the airlines use an algorithm to determine who should be IVB and I can assure you that the algorithm isn’t programmed to take race as a consideration. Yes you can certainly make the argument that he should never have been dragged off the a/c in that manner but it’s nothing more than idle speculation that his race had anything to do with it.

    Moreover, what is his book trying to infer?

  4. A National Hero!
    And soon to be best selling author
    Hopefully I can get a signed copy for every member of my family
    Can’t wait they turn the book into an Academy Award winning movie

  5. For once, aside from the book, he wasn’t a troublemaker, he just wanted to ride a plane that he had a legitimate ticket on. He was disfigured and showed the stupidity of airline policies for oversold flights at that time. Again, aside from the book, kudos to him to gain attention and make some money on it. Regarding the book… there is that pesky American phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” let’s see what inside before judging it.

  6. Does “Basic Economy” Dr. Dao discuss the criminal charges against him when he traded prescription drugs for sex with another man?

    Will Dr. Dao’s daughter go on the book tour, crying to the bookstore crowd about how unfairly her shameful father was treated by United?

  7. @ D. Sei I disagree . Dr Dao bought a full fare ticket and had a reservation. The way the story was reported he was removed so 2 United Airlines employees could board this flight. Additionally it was reported Dr Dao was traveling to a preform a surgery.

  8. @Sel D. I don’t think he was trespassing. He had a boarding pass, he was invited to board, they scanned his boarding pass at the gate and told him to proceed to his seat. He was boarded for all intents and purposes and for the airline to force him to give up a seat he had already taken and then call it “denied boarding” was absolutely absurd. If an airline wants to deny me boarding, they should tell me to approach the podium and tell me I was involuntarily bumped and not wait until I was actually boarded and had already settled in my seat.

  9. Relax people. It’s published by Mango Publishing who’s banner reads “We believe in diversity and stand against injustice.” The consumer will be the ultimate judge. At $27.95 he’ll be lucky to sell more than a box or two.

  10. Erm, isn’t a big reason for paying out a huge settlement that he can’t write a tell-all book to drag the whole incident up again?? What exactly did United pay him for?

    This just seems like a bizarre cash-grab which, if the settlement was in the millions of dollars, makes little sense. Surely the vast majority of people who have an interest in this book only care about what happened from when he boarded the flight onwards and this will be heavily censored by the terms of the settlement (I’m amazed he is allowed to publish anything). Are people that interested in his childhood and journey to the US? It has nothing to do with the famous incident.

  11. Getting an eight-figure settlement is the new ‘American Dream’, huh?

    Now I’m not wondering anymore about all the erratic behavior in the US.

  12. He had all the right to be on his seat and United as always screwed up. Now, calling the race card is total BS. And I thought only the new generation was a snowflake. He won’t see me wasting my time to read his book.

  13. @Alan,

    … and kills puppies too!

    Dr. Dao was not trespassing, he had a ticket, a boarding pass, and lawfully had his butt in seat. It was United that picked on the wrong person and it seems to have forgotten that it is a business to service and offer convenience of its customers!

  14. You all act like you wouldn’t have cashed in with the same opportunity. A publisher had to sign off on this and probably was responsible for the cringy wording…so there was enough interest.
    There’s some Dao-envy going on.

  15. This has been covered to death and it’s interesting how much passion it still generates.

    The fact is that Dr. Dao had boarded and was in his seat on a paid ticket. After United determined that it needed to get crew to SDF, it thought it could use the denied boarding procedures. Under those procedures, Dr. Dao was the first one to lose a seat. That is likely because the value assigned to his connection leg from ORD to SDF was very low.

    Dr. Dao, who likely had suffered discrimination in the past, might have thought that United was discriminating against him by choosing him to lose his seat. It wasn’t. I can’t say that the reaction of the gate agents, the police, etc., when Dr. Dao objected wasn’t discriminatory — it might have been. Would a similarly-aged white guy who politely stood his ground have been dragged off? But to me, it’s reasonable for a person who has suffered discrimination to think it’s happening to them even when it might not be happening. His anger was understandable. And United was wrong in how they handled this.

    United tried to use the denied boarding procedure to remove him. There are different procedures required to remove someone from an aircraft rather than to deny boarding to someone. United settled with him because they concluded that no court, no jury — ANYWHERE — would agree that they could use the denied boarding procedures to someone who already had boarded. They also didn’t want to disclose that they chose him because it would be cheaper to deny him boarding than anyone else. The video with those idiot thugs from the airport “police” didn’t help. United, after reflection, knew it was wrong.

    Note that all the airlines have changed how they would handle this situation in the future. Don’t get me wrong, the crew would still get on. But they would first deplane EVERYONE. Then they would go through the denied boarding procedures – first soliciting volunteers as required, etc., and then, if necessary, re-boarding the plane and denying boarding to the unlucky person who was no longer on the plane.

  16. I never understood this non compliance thing. Yes, they can be very wrong, rude, demeaning, etc.. but there are proper channels to deal with problems. You know how non compliance ends. You are killed or arrested or beat up. I don’t think an major inconvenience is worth that any of those. Im Asian so I do understand sometimes we do get discriminated, so I know where he comes from, but also as Asians mans of us are taught compliance at early age, so we go around the problem or solve the problem, not clash with the problem.

  17. What happened to Dao was unfortunate. I admire him standing his ground on what he claims are principles. But it was a very foolish decision by someone so well educated. A testimony to the fact that education doesn’t buy you intelligence. It’s fine to argue with airline staff, but once police are involved, it’s sensible to just comply and follow directives. Yes, it’s humiliating. Yes, it’s frustrating. But the humiliation and frustration could have been minimized had he just stepped off the aircraft and then taken this problem up with the authorities and with the airline in the airport. There would be opportunity for recourse. He could have filed a lawsuit. He could have taken the next flight. This need not have ended with him getting hurt. And I *refuse* to believe it had anything to do with his race. He was a random man kicked off a random flight which was overbooked. Let’s not make this about race. Let’s not exploit what happened in 2020 and paint with broad strokes. There was a white family of 4 that was also kicked off a plane a while back for similar reasons. So Dao shouldn’t make this about race and injustice. He’s part of the 1% in terms of education in the US. I admire the work he had to put in to get where he is today. But then again, these miracle stories of immigrants are only possible in the US. To cry foul when things don’t go your way is your right, but it doesn’t make you right. And what’s worse is that such irony again is only possible in the US. I say this as an immigrant myself.

  18. “These miracle stories of immigrants are only possible in the U.S.” @Norma J, this is just not true. There are plenty of countries in the world that receive lots of immigrants who achieve remarkable social mobility: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore come to mind, though there are many others… Actually, Canada and Australia have much higher foreign born populations as a percentage of their total populations than the U.S. The idea that the U.S. has a monopoly on immigrant success stories is a myth and in fact social mobility is higher in many other developed countries.

  19. So many comments get some facts confused.
    Dr. Dao was not denied boarding, he was removed after boarding having done nothing wrong.
    The flight was not overbooked, the extra seat was needed to accommodate cabin crew that missed a previous positioning flight and had to get there. Had these facts been made clear and public there would have likely been a volunteer that would have surrendered their seat in exchange for money or miles.
    My understanding is that he knew he was ticketed and boarded and had a scheduled procedure to perform the next day. I can speak as a health professional, the world is a one way street, patients cancel often, a health professional tries to never be late or cancel. He might also have been working at a job and things like missing a schedule are just not tolerated.
    Those referring to some conviction are totally not germane to this discussion.

  20. If somebody puts up with flying 1 million miles on United, they get some miles and lifetime gold.

    If somebody gets dragged off a flight they get over 10 million dollars.

    For about the same amount of suffering, you can get $10M instead of lifetime gold.

  21. It floors me that people think this one guy did something wrong and the airline was right. After this happened to Dr. Dao, he was SO wrong that every airline changed their procedures and United paid out a reported $10million+ settlement to him? If United was so in the right why would they have thrown insane amounts of money at this instead of fighting it in court, and why did every airline take notice and change their policies? Dr. Dao was the victim here, every bit of evidence and official response to the situation recognizes that, and the United CEO personally apologized to him, there is no question here who was right and who was wrong, it’s a settled fact.

  22. The ones who claim Dao did something wrong are the typical anti mask crowd who can’t get their facts straight so no surprise there (seriously look at their comments on posts about masks).

  23. I was about to also make the connection between those who complain about Dr Dao’s behavior and those who demand their “freedom” to not wear masks, but the other David got there first.
    BUT an 8 figure settlement ? Is that US dollars ??? Not including a decimal point ??? However sympathetic Dr Daos story may be, that is even more excessive than a star baseball player.

  24. So much to unpack with this case. I feel for the ordeal he went through, but his case highlighted so many issues and problems with the airline industry and law enforcement and ultimately I think his unfortunate circumstance changed things for the better, for instance:
    – Airlines were getting really arrogant and fully taking advantage of their monopoly power. It had become accepted practice that airlines treat their ‘customers’ like crap, and you don’t dare question it or you’ll get removed or arrested. This showed that there’s a limit to the level of arrogance and abuse that passengers are willing to endure.
    – The ‘rent a cops’ from Chicago Airport, who weren’t even licensed law enforcement officers but acting like military commandos, and properly put in their place that this was a civil rather than criminal matter in which they had no jurisdiction or power.
    – UA CEO immediately blaming the customer and taking the side of staff, only to have to walk it back later and apologize in earnest (and pay $$!).

    The balance of power had swung too far towards the airlines over the past few years as they exercised their monopoly pricing power, cut benefits and perks, made the passenger experience progressively worse, and raked in the profits. The Dr. Dao incident started a shift back towards consumer rights and I hope that his case will be remembered for years to come so that when the balance shifts back towards the airlines, the lesson continues to be learned.

  25. Involuntary denied boarding is NOT based on race or other demographics.

    There are algorithms and hierarchies for who to deny boarding to first, with last to check in as a very common starting point.

    There is absolutely no way he was denied boarding because of his race. No agent says “today I’m going to deny boarding to a Vietnamese person” – it doesn’t work that way.

    And if this guy got such a big settlement and if he’s renowned in his medical field, why the hell does he need a book deal?

    Yes what happened to him sucks and it’s way in the past and airlines learned from it.

    There’s no need to write a freakin 200 page book about it. And anyone who dares buy it should be embarrassed to waste their money on such garbage. And the publisher, didn’t think there were any that would be so stupid to take on crap like this.

    2020 is sinking to so many new lows.

    COVID and Dr Dao just need to go. Bye Felicia. Go away.

  26. Book sounds like a yawner.
    Maybe I could buy the hardback and use it to beat the cops when they pull me from my seat,

    Nowadays, they just pull your mask back and let it slap you in the face …..repeatedly . “I never touched him” would be accurate.
    No way he got eight figures unless it was paid in VND….or included the decimals.

  27. @ Industry insider
    Involuntary denied boarding was never the issue here. He boarded appropriately and was then removed having done nothing wrong. There has never been any statement claiming he was last to check in, even though that would not apply once he boarded, So much for your excuses.
    I was never aware that he was well known in his field but even so, maybe he wanted to really spread the word of his life experiences.
    What happened to him was terrible and the injuries remain, I can tell you, G-D made us the right way and every repaired injury, oral or orthopedic is never as good as naturally born. Quite simply, he was an innocent passenger that was assaulted by untrained uniform wearing rent-a-cops under orders of employees of UAL. All those involved should have been in jail.

  28. That incident could’ve gone less violently, as it should’ve. That said however, I believe that Dr. Dao is playing the race card. Sure, Asian Americans are getting beaten right now due to the Covid pandemic, but before any Covid-related situation started, which was when bumpgate happened, racism against Asian Americans has not been prominent in the 1990s-2010s.

  29. What I would like to know is if Dao lost any teeth? Did he have a brain hemorrhage? In retrospect, could he have acted differently and how likely would that have changed the outcome? Why didn’t United offer vouchers to volunteers? Or did they and there were no takers? Did United offer denied boarding compensation to volunteers (checks, not vouchers)? Too many unanswered questions.

  30. Of course if someone is Asian, he or she’s discriminatory event will always be laughed out, and particularly by white people. Maybe white people should listen more and stop being an asshat and judging/inserting your colonizer opinion!

  31. @Dave racism against Asian Americans has not been prominent in the 1990s-2010s.

    In the 1980’s some guy was killed with baseball bat in Detroit. – Internet says Vincent Chin 6/23/1982

  32. What pissed me off the most are all the looks of horror on the fellow passengers. Maybe the good Doctor had a legit reason to fly. No one got up and said “I can take a later flight. They are as guilty as UAL is.

  33. @SelD, how would you feel if the waiter grabbed the plate of you’re food already eating because they need to feed their cook? Sound ridiculous right? it is basically the same thing with the exception that you pay after when you eat out. Trespasser my ass.

  34. he is using the race card, but there is nothing wrong with using the race card. he also used his doctor card to try to get himself stay on the plane but that was not useful. there is no way this dragging event is right. you are correct that is event is not discrimination, but if he is trying to expand to discuss about the most racist nation in the world that call themselves not racist, I dont see why not.

  35. Despite the rights or wrongs of this incident, it is SO, SO old news!
    It beggars belief that anyone could fill out a 236 page book with this incident, and even more incredible the publishers would envisage anyone would waste any valuable time actually reading it!
    Expect to see it at trashy booksellers remaindered with 95% off early in the new year.

  36. Quote: “ security officials forcibly removed Dr. Dao after refusing to give up his seat. “ Good material for TOEFL / ESL tests. Question: who refused to give up the seat?

  37. From the get-go this “tragedy” is inaccurate. It was a Express carrier, not mainline United, who did this to position one of their crews but blaming the Tulip garners more headlines. And he RE-boarded the aircraft after VOLUNTARILY stepping off (there’s video of that) , then changing his mind.

  38. Ah, I remember all the Trump supporters flooding the internet with their “Dao was a convicted criminal and drug addict” narratives. Three years later and the internet is still the same vicious place.

  39. It’s the perfect example of “The American Dream”. What a screwed up country. They had their 100 years of glory. Now the deep slide into 3rd World.

  40. The fact that there are as many comments on a book about an incident 4 years after the incident says the event is still pretty raw.
    OMAAT obviously draws aviation types but I doubt if the general public wants to read about the incident now. I would bet UA’s settlement prohibited talking about it before now which is why it is being released now.
    The internet outrage was enormous and precipitated a top to bottom review of UA’s passenger service operations. Whether the incident changed anything is up for debate but the incident itself made an enormous impact on UA and on the airline industry.
    Without reading the book, I am sure he is building on the transformative nature of the event – which the number of responses to the comment validate.

  41. @tcchoi There is EVERYTHING wrong with using the “race card” when there is no discrimination as you point out. Why? Well, because selfish idiots like Dao who cry “racist” for non-race related cases of injustice make people question the legitimacy of people’s allegations when discrimination ~has~ occurred along race lines. So there is no justification for this.

  42. @Jeff “White colonizer opinion?” Absolute rubbish. What Dao did is laughable. Not complying with police directives, delaying the flight, getting hurt voluntarily etc. And if you are so WOKE, don’t just use “he” and “she” use “they” because I find your chauvinistic attitude is hurtful and transphobic.

  43. @David you compare people who believe Dao is wrong (and he is) to the anti-maskers. How can you compare people advocate following directives and laws (complying with police directives and deboarding when ordered to even if it’s frustrating) to people who don’t follow laws (not wearing masks despite airline and airport policy). Do you see how contradictory that is? Do you see the irony? Or is that beyond your intellect? I won’t blame you if it is.

  44. @JM immigration to the US remains high despite all the efforts of Trump & Co. because the American dream is very much alive and not under threat as Dao claims. And even though other countries are immigrant friendly and offer opportunities of social mobility, the US still remains the country of choice to emigrate to for a lot of people like myself and right so. Dao failed to cooperate with the police and paid the price. Anyone in his position who committed similar actions would have met the same fate. But they wouldn’t have been able to say they were victims of racism, win millions of dollars from a settlement, and write a book that no one will read other than select people who buy this BS. Dao is everything that I as an immigrant don’t want to be associated with. Opportunistic, ungrateful, and hypocritical.

  45. First off, this is in NO WAY a racist act. He bought the cheapest Economy ticket available, and of course as per United, the priority for a confirmed seat is given to Status holders and those who purchased the high-end economy tickets (Economy Standard, Economy Flex). This was and is the standard practice across the board.
    Am I accusing United of being a ‘racist’?
    But yeah, the way they treated him was completely disastrous. The officers had no right whatsoever to knock a man down to take him off the aircraft. Someone else who were witnessing the incident at the time, could’ve volunteered to get on the next flight.
    Do I commend United for treating Dr. Dao like that?
    But then, he was settled with an eight million dollar figure and everything was sorted out.

    What is actually the message behind the book? It’s not another Rosa Parks incident where she was targeted because of her race. I am curious to read it out though but calling this incident a racist one is nuts.

  46. Dr Dao did not listen when he was asked to be removed from the plane. Regardless he was in FAA violation. His final settlement with United should have been mitigated 75% solely on this premise.

  47. @Dave: “Sure, Asian Americans are getting beaten right now due to the Covid pandemic, but before any Covid-related situation started, which was when bumpgate happened, racism against Asian Americans has not been prominent in the 1990s-2010s.”

    You mean, other than the destruction of Korean-owned businesses during the LA riots in 1992, violence against Sikhs and Muslims immediately following 9/11 (which has slowed down, but still exists on some level), the high incidence of racial discrimination still described by Asians in workplaces (based on a belief that they are unsuited for management positions), the “model minority” myth that is perpetuated that often causes Asian students to be left behind in educational situations, the fact that people still post memes about Chinese restaurants in this country stealing dogs and cats and putting them in their food, as if this happens all the time, or anything of that sort?

    Yeah, sure, there isn’t racism against Asians in this country.

  48. United was being cheap and they should have just upgraded their voucher offers until someone stepped up and took it.
    However, this guy sounds a total opportunist. From what I read (correct me if I’m wrong) his MD license was suspended so he had no patients to legally see.
    I would have respected him more if he would have just got off the plane and filed a grievance with the airline then. On that regard he would totally be in the right!
    Rumor is that he received around 140 million dollar settlement from this. That’s despicable! It’s an insult to all the honest hard working people in this country who indirectly will have to pay for this! I’m All for human rights but this is just cruel exploitation because the company is in a compromising position. Pathetic! Writing a book on it makes it even more pathetic!

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.