The Horrible Video I Hadn’t Seen Of The Guy Being Dragged Off A United Flight…

Filed Under: United, Videos

Earlier I wrote about the horrible situation that unfolded on a United flight to Louisville last night, where a passenger was forcefully dragged off a flight because it was oversold. What I hadn’t yet seen was the below video of him back on the plane after the incident occurred (somehow he managed to run back on the plane).

Wow, wow, wow…


(Tip of the hat to @AAPLTree)

  1. This is totally United’s fault. They overbooked. OK. But why did they then board too many people? They had complete control over who gets on the airplane to begin with. They should have stopped people from boarding. This doesn’t seem to be a situation where a passenger was denied boarding, but rather, having boarded, was forcibly removed. Is there anything in the COC about that?

  2. This may be the absolute worst customer service I have ever witnessed in my entire life. Seriously, at least the fraudsters that prey on the elderly generally treat their marks with some modicum of courtesy while they’re robbing them blind. This is just garbage.

  3. Airlines need to stop overselling seats. When a person bought a seat, that seat should be his/hers only. If he/she decides not to show up for that seat and loose the money, that’s on him/her. There should be a law forcing airlines to fly oversold clients via private jet. That should stop this overselling seat practice very fast.

  4. Are you now going to comment on how United treated this passenger or just make excuses for them and sweep it under the carpet, eh Ben?

  5. This incident may be the catalyst for change on a political level. Keep treating customers like human garbage and sooner or later someone’s going to get hurt. It can still get a lot worse. And the airlines are to blame. If they don’t want to stand behind their deals they make with customers, an aggressive congressman or three might just do it for them. Expect some legislation forthcoming.

  6. United– there’s always a better way. Always.

    I still wonder if the gate agent actually was mainline United… OR a Republic ‘contractor’. Somebody ‘decided’ to board when they knew they were going to need seats. And that somebody is also culpable.

  7. Am I understanding it correctly that United offered the max amount for passengers willing to be bumped and no one took them up on the offer? Or did they not realize until just before they closed the door that they were oversold?

  8. Reading this stuff I feel for everyone involved and wonder how thy get to this point. As the saying goes, common sense isn’t that common.
    United dropped the ball. Having personnel out of position, letting people board knowing it was oversold then not offering enough to get volunteers. I have read $800 but rules have a max of $1350 I think so why wouldn’t you at least try.
    I know there is tremendous latitude in bumping but given the reason was of their own making and not paid passenger itineraries I would think the contract of carriage shouldn’t apply.
    Then I have read about the Asian doctor who was forcibly removed. I don’t care about his profession, race or nationality , etc. he was asked to leave and didn’t. If someone isn’t willing to leave and legally needs to do so you are putting yourself in harms way. There is no “nice” way to remove someone when they are belligerent especially in confined space.

  9. Ah, the reason article said no one was willing to get off when they hit the max $800 payout. I’d argue that there should be no max and they should keep increasing the amount in $100 increments until 4 people hit their flight attendant call button. I would add that there should be no limit on the amount. If the airlines want to overbook then they should have to eat the costs when they miscalculate.

  10. @John

    As we understand it, the gate agent offered amounts up to $800 which is the “max UAL guideline amount”… but there is no statutory limit. It’s clearly a flaw in the system, since the airline’s hide behind the “minimum” ranges for denied boarding comp as if they were maximums.

    It’s also NOT cash, but United funny-money vouchers, which can be hard to use.

    Punchline: in these cases it should be more and it should be in cash BEFORE they bring in the goon squad to “rough him up a bit”. This is Chicago, please keep in mind.

  11. BTW, on a twisted sidenote… in a world where the more companies abuse their workers (thinking Uber) and their customers (pretty much any US airline you’d care to name.) the better the stock price gets–

    It’s worth noting that United’s stock price went up OVER 1% today, adding over $220 MILLION to the value of the company. So, having your customers beaten by goons would seem to be good for the bottom line.

    One shudders to think of the late night CFO-Staff meetings in Atlanta and Fort Worth tonight….

  12. I think everyone is missing the point. When law enforcement officers tell you to get off an airplane, regardless of whether you “feel” or “are” right, you get off the plane. You can debate the merits of this man’s rights, but he doesn’t have the right to disobey police officers because he wants to. By disobeying the authorities, he put himself in a precarious situation. He did that to himself. And while UAL started the problem, the customer made it worse.

    No, the police officer is not responsible. Accidents happen when you resist authority. I have no reason to believe the policeman thought “Lets see, can I bash this guys face and make a real scene with a bunch of cell phones around?”

  13. The thug police also deserve a ton of blame in this incident. It is clear that it is becoming a fight between government employees and private citizens. Law enforcement will do anything they are asked just as long as they get their pension and benefits.

    I have heard that the thug directly involved with the asaulting the passenger has been put on administrative leave. We’ll see what happens.

  14. This is wrong on so many fronts it’s unbelievable.
    1) the overbooking was caused by pilots needing to be flown to Louisville not excess passengers.
    2)the physician put his patients first and United put their PROFITS first because they needed pilots relocated.
    3)just as supply and demand dictate ticket prices, it dictates the price of overbooking. If I don’t like the cost of a ticket I can’t FORCE my way on the plane.
    4) any sane person would prioritize a doctor getting back as important as a pilot (four?!?) being relocated.
    5) I don’t thing Mr Munoz or his executives would take too kindly to his or her surgeon not showing up for a scheduled surgery because they were bumped.
    6)as a surgeon myself, I have paid for private flights if a flight is cancelled to ensure that I don’t inconvenience patients, despite losing money by doing this…certainly a huge corporation could cover an increase in the “bumping”compensation.
    6)it exaggerates how airline staff have become empowered by using the power to remove patients for any issue. It’s a shut up if you want to fly mentality.

    Personally, I feel this gentleman should never pay to fly again…they owe him apologies and significant compensation.

  15. This is not a case of property rights, this is a case of fraud. The doctor paid for the use of that property, and was assured a seat. He then scheduled his trip accordingly.
    United offered to buy the seat back, and the doctor, who now owns the rights to that seat, didn’t want to sell it back, as is his right.

  16. Just a few comments on volunteer compensation…

    1. Most airlines consider these certificates to be revenue-generative. The thought is that people will normally not use the certificate for business travel, therefore chances are the certificate holder will travel with someone who presumably would purchase a ticket. This works up to a certain point, ($800 in United’s case) after which the certificate value is too high to be generative and the airline ends up giving away two tickets.

    2. At some point (again $800 in United’s case) it is ultimately cheaper for the carrier to pay denied boarding compensation to whoever they end up pulling off the flight.

    It will never be “Let’s Make a Deal”. Each carrier has carefully done the math and has determined for themselves their maximum level of volunteer compensation. If there are no takers at that point, then passengers are removed (or denied boarding) in accordance with the carrier’s denied boarding procedures, compensation is paid to those passengers, and the plane departs.

  17. @Mark
    There are certain things you have to do when a police officer tells you to do it. But not everything. You are protected under law and the constitution. It’s like when people think they HAVE to do a sobriety test. You don’t. The only reason a cop asks you to do it is to prove you are drunk, not to prove innocence. Did things escalate and there is a lot of fault to be shared, of course. But to blindly go with everything a cop asks you to do (as opposed to him telling you what to do and there is a huge difference in the law with regards to that) is just silly. You have rights, even from cops.

  18. @Mark can’t agree with you more. United acted entirely within their rights under the contract of carriage. Everyone can’t stop ranting about how United is evil incarnate, all while failing to recognize that the passenger was resisting a police officer.

    On a somewhat related note, this video doesn’t make me feel more sympathetic for the passenger. This, along with the fact that he resisted removal, makes me call into question his mental state

  19. @Mark

    I remain confused as to how “Police Officers” are allowed to wear blue jeans to their workplace? Are we absolutely certain these are Chicago PD officers? CPD seemed to be having nothing to do with this situation, so I’m wondering if they are actually police officers?

    Or, more likely “private security contractors” (think “Blackwater Inc”)? With the build and swagger they look more like ex-military contractor dudes than actual CPD officers.

    If anyone knows why Chicago PD lets their officers wear blue jeans in this setting, please post.

  20. The problem is that UA does not get that this is not a police issue at all.

    They sold a ticket.

    Passenger dutifully boarded and took his seat.

    Passenger declined $800 to give his seat up.

    UA still wanted him to give up his seat to their employee to ensure orderly business operations the next day.

    Passenger refused.

    NO POLICE STORY HERE!!! Seriously, there has to be an endpoint to the FA instructions a passenger may be obliged to follow.

    “Give me all the money in your wallet.” No!

    “Eat your substandard meal.” No!

    Show me your tits. No!

    Give up your seat for one of our employees. No!

  21. @John : the never-ending $100 increment won’t work just based on game theory. Even if i have infinite flexibility to accommodate, i would have zero incentive to be the first to raise my hand. But once there’s a sucker raising his, then the correct move is immediately follow to take #2 spot.

    I also see a sense of entitlement by the unruly passenger, who felt the need to proclaim he’s a doctor rushing back to a patient …. as if other passenger’s time is any less valuable than his.

  22. If anybody cares, here’s the standard uniform for a Chicago Aviation Police Officer at O’Hare:

    They look like cops.

    The dudes in the videos, dressed in blue jeans, look like private security, ex-military. Not cops, not TSA. At least one’s been suspended today, so at least it’s been taken seriously– it looks like the victim was hit pretty hard in the mouth and nose.
    And, AFTER they dragged him off the plane. He clearly wasn’t bleeding when he was dragged down the aisle. The video later shows him bleeding profusely from the face.

  23. @Mark

    I would have preferred if the police had simply refused to interpose themselves in what was a private dispute that did not implicate public safety. Rather, it implicated UA’s pure business interests, and the police have no role weighing those business interests against the passenger’s personal interests.

    UA has been remarkably arrogant here – essentially they decided that their need to operate the next day at Louisville trumped the commitment it made to it passenger. The police should have politely advised UA that they are not UA’s goons and will not put a thumb on the scale in favor of anyone in a matter where they did not belong.

  24. My concern is no one was called to evaluate the mental state or emotional health of this individual before force was chosen as the primary response. Would it be company policy to approve use of violence when people diagnosed with autism or any DSM-V catalogued illness?

  25. So many people are throwing United under the bus. United staff weren’t the ones to “escort” him off the plane. He should not have resisted. I agree with @henry LAX… he was saying that his time is more valuable than everyone else. It is only a 4-5 hour drive to Louisville from ORD. Take the $800 and drive down there.

  26. Again, just shows what complete trash of an airline United is. Why anyone would fly them in beyond me. All you people get so excited about Polaris and the “new” seats that are coming in 5 years. And then an airline treats someone like this. Wow. There is NO excuse for this behavior. You don’t drag someone off a plane like an animal. He should NOT have gotten out of his seat. What garbage United is. And anyone who supports United by flying them condones that behavior.

    If I were American or Delta, I would offer this guys free flights for life. And make a big media splash out of it. United deserves every ounce of bad press it receives.

  27. The use of excessive force is a huge issue. United could’ve simply made their offer more attractive either by increasing the amount or probably paying the amount in cash.
    Forcibly removing a pax with so much force was totally uncalled for, I hope he sues all organizations/entities involved and wins big.

    Btw Seems like the officer who dragged him out has been placed on leave pending investigation.

  28. I mean, even if he isn’t willing to get off the plane, no violence should be used under ANY circumstances. That man did no wrong, he didn’t forge his boarding pass or do anything illegal, he is just a normal passenger like everybody else on the plane. Shame on United. Hope that they are sued big time .

  29. @Mark the point is since when did the police become an arm of the airline management? There is no business for police to be entering a plane to solve United’s management problem. They never should have been there in the first place is the problem.

    Say you go to a restaurant and after you prepay your meal they tell you to get out before your food arrives and you say that you can’t leave for a very valid reason #insert here# so without hesitation they send in the bouncers to beat you up. Why does being on an airplane when the management wants to steal your seat for their own greedy reason make this any more of an acceptable action?

  30. there any chance this man has a mental disability? Was he really a doctor, or was that just what he was saying in order to try and stay on the plane? From all the videos I’ve seen today, he has been making loud noises or walking down the aisle repeating the same thing “I have to go home” or “Please kill me”. Now, it is entirely possible something in him snapped when he was being yanked out of his seat and he had a breakdown after getting his lip busted up, leading to all this behavior, but I was always under the impression that physicians/surgeons are able to stay cool, calm, and collected under pressure. I’ll be more interested to see what happens as the media dives into this man’s background.

    United still screwed up, don’t get me wrong, but his reactions are not what I would expect from a professional physician being put in a stressful situation.

  31. The more I see about this, the more angry I get at United and at the police. This was so avoidable.

    As far as United goes, I worked for the other two of the three remaining majors. I understand why it was necessary to get the crew on this plane. They weren’t ordinary non-revs. In fact, all the airlines — all of them — prioritize crew (or mechanics) in this situation above ALL others including paying passengers. Why? If this crew didn’t make it to SDF, it would have cancelled an entire flight maybe several. Unfortunately, it was worth inconveniencing a few to not inconvenience the many. This part of the business really sucks but there are ways to make it less so and United didn’t take any of them.

    I am guessing that the gate agent began the boarding of the plane without knowing that the crew had to be accommodated. When confronted with the necessity to pull people off the plane, it was obviously not handled well. United’s agents did not offer enough compensation – likely because they did not have the authority too. While agents used to have discretion, the Kirby’s of the world, long ago took that from them. From what other passengers on the plane reported, the agent rubbed everyone the wrong way with how volunteers were solicited after boarding with statements like, four people are coming off this plane to board four employees or this plane isn’t going anywhere.

    In addition, once it got to the point of an IDB – involuntary denied boarding – there seems no question that DOT rules were not followed. The airline is REQUIRED, I repeat, REQUIRED to provide a written statement to the persons IDB’d regarding the compensation that they are due and the airline’s method for determining who is IDB’d. There are no indications at all that was done. All anyone is talking about in any of these stories is the $400 or $800, which are voluntary denied boarding inducements, not the CASH or CHECK, in amounts up to $1350 or 4X the ticket price due in an IDB. Moreover, you don’t have to accept the IDB amount or check, though they are required to give it to you. You can sue for damages instead. Bottom line, no one is saying that they didn’t told this gentleman why he was selected for IDB, no one is saying that they mentioned IDB compensation, and United is required to do both.

    Finally, the police. They did not have to assist United here. This was a private dispute between the passenger and United. Instead of conducting a reasonable inquiry, they blindly followed what United asked them to do. I imagine that their training will be changed after this incident – especially once the inevitable lawsuit is filed. What I find interesting about the video above is that the police clearly did not find any reason to detain the passenger once they removed him from the plane. Otherwise, there is no way he would have never been able to reboard. Now personally, I would likely not have had the courage to stand up to the police, and would have exited the plane when requested. But the bottom line is that police should not have assisted United in handling this private dispute. They certainly wouldn’t have assisted a passenger if there were a reverse situation.

    Lucky are you starting to get it?

    TL;DR: I usually am an airline apologist. Not this time. United (and the police) screwed up.

  32. If anybody cares what Chicago Aviation Police Officers actually look like you
    can search ‘ image chicago aviation police ‘

    Those rippled muscle dudes are clearly NOT Chicago Aviation Police Officers– not in blue jeans, not with that demeanor, not with the swagger. Not with the strange, immediately-physical interaction with the dude. They look like private security.
    And, if that’s the case, we should all be very nervous, because due process went out the window and the passenger got some smash-mouth treatment in the jetway. He wasn’t bleeding from the mouth when dragged down the jetway. Later, on the video, he’s clearly been hit in the fact. hard.

  33. United no doubt mucked this up. It could have, and should have, been handled differently. But the discussion has so far been centered only on this flight. United didn’t bump four revenue passengers simply because they wanted to get a crew to Louisville. Getting the crew to Louisville meant that the flight out of Louisville didn’t need to be cancelled thereby inconveniencing the 50-70 or more people on that flight. And if the crew was not in Louisville then the plane would not have departed, potentially disrupting the travel plans of every passenger on each flight that plane was scheduled to operate that day.

    These decisions are never made lightly. When IROP (irregular operations) happen, the goal is to inconvenience the least number of people possible. In this case that meant four people in Chicago didn’t get to go to Louisville as planned. But potentially hundreds of people’s travel plans were saved because those four people were bumped to move a flight crew to where they were needed to minimize disruption to the greatest number of passengers.

  34. I doubt the United sympathizers would be so quick to give up their seat and leave if randomly chosen but you all certainly sound cavalier.

    It’s so easy to judge the following day but in the end, a van ride for the aircrew would have saved a massive amount of bad press and hurt feelings.

  35. The public relations damage from this might be enough to give Oscar Munoz another heart attack.

  36. I don’t think he is saying Please Kill Me. I travel extensively in Asia and have many Asian friends and he sounds like my Thai friends’ English. I think he is intending to mean “they tried to kill me.” I also questioned if he was a doctor as his response and rather elementary English skills seems to say no. Some witnesses said he was not being unruley, he simply said he couldn’t leave the flight. I am not sure that he understood that he was about to be assaulted in that regard.

  37. For those of you who think UA won’t do this again just read the CEO’s message. We are sorry we had to reaccommodate this passenger. No, the didn’t HAVE TO “reaccommodate” the passenger. They just took the option they desired to conduct their business without regard to anything else. And they will do it again. Why do UA FA’s have such a problem with taking pictures in the cabin? Why does UA have it in their COC that pictures cannot be taken. How many would doubt something so over the top really happened the way it did if not for the video? In another airport on another airline (LGA and DL) passengers were getting $1k+ vouchers to give up their seats. For other passengers, not DL employees! Hmmmm, which airline demonstrated treating customers the way I’d like to be treated?

  38. i would have zero incentive to be the first to raise my hand.

    One would assume there are folks on the plane who need the money more than you do.

  39. There’s an aspect about the way denied boarding worked in this case for which I have yet to see any comment. I’ve heard reports that United (more specifically their computer system) randomly selected four passengers. I’m guessing they think it’s the fairest way but I would suggest that passengers be selected by measurable criteria such as who paid the lowest fare. Passengers who bought economy minus fares should be at a higher risk of loosing their seats than passengers who booked early and paid higher fares. If you want a real cheap fare then you take the risk that you might be denied boarding. If you pay a higher fare then you should be guaranteed a seat.

    BTW I do recognize that passengers on award travel need to be protected.


  40. Gregg,

    You are assuming the only option United had is to have those four crew members on the plane. It’s likely that was the cheapest option, not the only option.

  41. @Gregg, I hardly see justifying using a private security goon/so-called police force to forcibly remove passengers, thereby delaying that flight, as a means to keep another flight from being delayed. There were other options for getting the crew to Louisville, albeit maybe a little late causing that flight to be delayed 2 hours. But deciding that potentially assaulting paying customers for their bottom line is not an excuse. I’ve been on many flights where I knew that our flight was being sacrificed in order to get another flight out on time but that has always been due to weather. Not for their own screw up.

  42. @ Marl P – Are you an attorney? Sounds like you’re trying this man’s case and he hasn’t even filed yet. Anyway, it’s obvious there are no doctors in your family or you’d know that assuming they’re always “cool, calm, and collected under pressure” is more a description of James Bond than an actual human being.

  43. Wow, UA, just wow is all I can say about this ugly incident. I’ve lived in AUS for ~ 20 years and one of the downsides of living in AUS is unfortunately one must connect for a majority of flights. Years ago, I chose to fly AA instead of CO/UA. While AA is far from perfect, I haven’t flown UA for years and this is just another example of why I refuse to “fly the friendly skies”. As someone else mentioned, UA could have solved this issue fairly easily- now, it will cost them millions! I hope this passenger has a really great attorney and I agree that if I was Doug Parker or the CEO of Delta, I would be offering this guy the opportunity to fly free on my airline for life.

  44. @Neil, those are valid points and seem like the most logical approach. Call me jaded, though, but I highly doubt it is really random.

  45. I am a surgeon and have been in a similar situation where I was bumped from a flight the day before I had three patients scheduled for surgery. Did I throw a fit and become all the talk on social media? No. I calmly went and got a rental car and drove the five hours home. On my way home, I called the airline and told them what happened, and they provided a full refund for my entire trip (not just the leg I was bumped from). A little common sense and politeness go a long way. We need to all be respectful of each other’s time and space, no matter who we are.

  46. I hope he sues the crap out of United… Like jesus christ United, get your head in the game. YOU DO NOT DRAG PEOPLE OF THE PLANE UNTIL THEY BLEED!

  47. Rather than offering double double (1200$) they just cost themselves millions of dollars once they are inevitably sued and generated horrible publicty with many including me vowing that i will not be flying the friendly skies anytime soon.

  48. Look, it’s simple. In a situation like that, when the police tell you to do something, you DO IT! Ask questions later all you want, but the fact is they have guns and you don’t.

    Now when you’re at home? That’s a different story. In my case, I’m better armed, and they best not push it.

  49. @Mark: “No, the police officer is not responsible. Accidents happen when you resist authority. I have no reason to believe the policeman thought “Lets see, can I bash this guys face and make a real scene with a bunch of cell phones around?””

    Um…you’re not aware of how things work in Chicago, are you?

  50. @Wes

    Actually, Chicago Aviation Police are unique (you can look this up) in that they don’t carry guns in the terminal.

    The dudes that roughed up this doctor also weren’t dressed like normal Chicago Aviation Police Officers– the blue jeans for one, the demeanor on the video for another. They are no doubt paid by Chicago Aviation Police– but their behavior is 100% ex-military Blackwater-style muscle.

    At least one’s on “leave” for this. The legal side will get ugly.

  51. If law enforcement asks you to get up and leave, and you don’t, then a little hurtin’ is what you can expect to get.

    Before everyone gets all on the “Sue United for everything they own” bandwagon, I suggest everyone start looking at the fine print that comes with buying a ticket. I’m no expert on aviation law (I am an attorney), but I suspect United was well within their rights to force the passenger to leave.

    Next time, United should just tell the whole plane that they have overbooked, and because there are still too many people on the plane, they will have to cancel the whole flight.

    Maybe then it will be the other passengers who throw the man out, not the police.

  52. Delta really needs to capitalize on this one.

    Fly Delta: We’ll let you wear your leggings and we won’t beat you up!

  53. Is this the new Polaris business class I keep hearing about? Extra fat lip with a free knuckle sandwich? I have long thought of United as the worst US carrier but I thought it was because of delays and poor service. It is clear that the issues go so much deeper. Here we have poor customer service, combined with poor management practices, poor empathy, poor intelligence, with a healthy addition of raging security more interested in getting physical as the only solution to any problem.

  54. Where was the pilot in all this? Is he not in charge of his plane? Did he attempt to talk to this passenger before the United Airlines Geheimpolizei were called in? Or was he merely ordered to leave without discussion. Who actually called the United Airlines Geheimpolizei in? Some commenters are misinformed as to the nature of the compensation. It’s not cash, which may explain the reluctance of passengers to accept. If they offered 800 in cash half the plane would have emptied. United can spin this every which way, but it still ends up that they consider their customers cargo, or less.

  55. Hi,
    From a canadian view: don’t forget that you are in the US…that explain a lot of thing…sorry.

  56. This situation was handle poorly from the beginning. The employees could have found another way to Louisville. Once the doctor appeared to be unconscious, medical help should have been summoned. Once he returned to the plane and began muttering, “Just kill me…,” it was clear that he was disoriented from the blow to his head. The fact that half the passengers disembarked after the first incident indicates that the officers acted improperly. Thank you Gestapo Airlines!

  57. Wow!
    To @AlexS: I was born and raised in Chicago for 40 years. Moved to San Fran a decade ago. Every police Dept has good and bad apples. If I were a cop and it was my job to get someone off a plane, if it gets to the point that the passenger refuses my authority, I can imagine that dragging someone (unwillingly) out of their cramped window airline seat opens up the possibility of an injury. This passenger found that out.

    I absolutely believe United has the ability to have you removed from a plane for any reason. You may not agree with the reason, but it is not YOUR plane. Buying a ticket is a contract, but united has the ability to break that contract for any reason. If you feel that you were illegally or unfairly removed, you go to court and plead your case. If the judge agrees with you, and you have damages, you get compensated. The police officer is not there to be the judge. They are acting on behalf of a property owner who cannot get you to leave.

    @KW correctly figured out how to not escalate his situation. Increasingly, fewer and fewer fellow citizens have the ability to do the same.

  58. Why is this even categorized as “overbooked”? United elected to force paying customers off so it could accommodate its own employees. It is definitely “United first”, “profit first” but never “customer first”!!
    Shame on United!

  59. @browniemiles: right on.

    @Mark: contract or not, this is still a black eye on United, which could have defused the situation by upping its compensation offer or finding another way to get its deadheading crew to its destination.

    If the passenger sues and win, it will cost United a lot more than if it had simply increased its reward for getting bumped.

    @KW: you acted resourcefully when you were bumped, but we don’t know why this passenger couldn’t do the same. Certainly United could have done what you did: rent a car (but with a chauffeur) for its crew and have them driven the 300 miles to Louisville. Or, if the crew were needed urgently, it could have paid another airline to deadhead them or chartered a private flight. I’m sure it anticipated this once it found out the flight would be overbooked, but it chose to take the strong arm approach and, in the process, ruined its public image even more.

  60. @Lucky what I am afraid is that airlines take bumping customer as a privilege. After all, say if you booked an expensive trip and you lose one day’s value because of involuntary bumping, what could you do? Nothing, you are fucked by airlines and they had no obligation in compensating your inconvenience besides $1000 dollar.
    I do hope United being fined by more than several million dollar in this lawsuit…. the real issue is, even though all airlines are unfair contract that in favor of the corporation, you don’t have any choice but accept them. This really sucks.

  61. “It’s worth noting that United’s stock price went up OVER 1% today, adding over $220 MILLION to the value of the company. So, having your customers beaten by goons would seem to be good for the bottom line.”

    It wasn’t the beaten-by-goon factor that drove up the stock price: Rather, the market looked at the fact that United was overbooking like a bandit and got all starry-eyed at the thought of ALL! THAT! PROFIT!! :-/

  62. It seems to me that the word “voluntary” has been misinterpreted by UA. Definition: “done, given, or acting of one’s own free will”. UA voluntarily oversold the flight and that was the only voluntary thing about this flight.

  63. Why only United cash. A few years ago I was traveling with my wife and children from LHR to LAX on Virgin Atlantic and we were all bumped. I was offered the hotel, breakfast, transportation from and to the airport, and 4 vouchers to anywhere in the world they travelled or hard cash in £,€, or $. At that point in my life the cash had more value and it was enough to cover almost the entire face value of the tickets I’d bought for the family. Turned out to be a great vacation which basically cost me the family shopping.

  64. Lucky, as bad as the video looks, bottom line is the passenger is completely at fault! He REPEATEDLY REFUSED to leave, so United had him removed. End of story.

  65. I cannot believe they didn’t have more volunteers get off the plane when they jacked the money up to $800. I would have walked off with my family up and went to the counter for our $3200 and rented a car, bus, or train.

    I do think this had to be a cultural misunderstanding or a mental breakdown for this man not to stand up and get off the plane on his own volition
    and I agree it could have been handled much better. That said, I would have complied with the police. Pick your battles wisely.

  66. Again people, NOT POLICE OFFICERS! These were Aviation officers which are no more than security people!
    United’s stock may have ended up today but let’s see how well they do going forward!
    Every Airline in the business is going to be all over this! United didn’t fire a shot across the bough, they shot themselves in the foot!
    Hard to convince the flying public that they should “fly the friendly skies” with this kind of publicity!
    Way to go United!

  67. @Mark

    I have to disagree with you there.

    Maybe you don’t know about this, but in 1955 a women named Rosa Parks was on a bus. She didn’t want to sit in the back, because segregation was wrong and blacks were treated as second hand citizens (if that)

    She sat in a “white” seat, and refused to get up. It also took police intervention to get her out, and she was subsequently arrested.

    Now, did she have to do that? No
    Would it have been easier for everyone if she just moved? Of course.

    But you miss the point. Her doing that set in motion legislation for more equal rights. You say no matter what, right or wrong, you should obey an officer. Well it seems like history and common sense disagrees with you.

    I’m sure you’re saying “well that was totally different!”

    But you’re wrong again. Customers (or even humans) shouldn’t be treated this way. That man paid for and had every right to a seat. The fault is solely on the airline, period.

    The police were partially responsible for beating the man also. I understand it was their job (not their fault) to remove a passenger. But to beat him is a gross brutality that was absolutely unessecary.

    Am I saying that this will go down in history as a protest and be in history? Probably not. But, it will set in motion (hopefully) for legislation and changes for this airline (and all businesses) to not only take advantage of their customers for a few more dollars, but be accountable for their own actions and mistakes.

    To blame the passenger simply shows you can’t see the bigger picture.

    The airliner was 100% at fault, and should have offered more incentive (like cash) until they had a volunteer. But again, they were only worried about money and not the customers.

    I hope that this hurts their business in the long run, so maybe they will learn that treating the customers humanely will also be good for business

    I know that I personally will think twice about using that airline

  68. Really makes no difference whether it was Security Officials or police. He was asked repeatedly to leave, and he repeatedly refused to leave. The passenger was COMPLETELY AT FAULT FOR REFUSING to leave, not United. Could the situation have been handled differently? Possibly, but United is not at fault.

  69. Your comparison with Rosa Parks really has no bearing on this. Why are you trying to make It a race thing? No demonstration here, he just refused, repeatedly, a request to leave the plane. You could say it was his right, but he paid the price.

  70. United is at fault for handing this like ignorant bullies. Perhaps the law is on their side, but that alone does not excuse this behavior. As I said before, if they offered something people really wanted, like cash, they would have had no problems. Calling the Gestapo in was moronic.

  71. Having read all of these comments, I agree with what Joe said when he referenced the 1955 Rosa Parks case.

    I for one will boycott U.A. until I see some real act of contrition on their part for this dreadful incident. I hope hundreds of thousands will do the same.


  73. Thank you for posting this information. I just learned there was 4 United ( non revenue) passengers on that flight. It was NOT oversold! One of those 4 United employee’s should of volunteered to get off the flight! DISGUSTING!

  74. There are rules. There are policy guidelines. There are safety concerns for protecting all passengers on an aircraft. There are normal people trying to do their jobs and who have to make executive decisions to the best of their ability. There are situations that get out of hand. There are people who have temper tantrums and drama. Lots of people are level-headed, or neurotic or psychotic or just plain ‘ol batsh*t crazy to varying degrees. There are situations that escalate rapidly. Almost everyone has a phone camera. Lots of clueless people comment with bigoted prejudice based on snippets and rehash what they just read 20 seconds ago without knowing the facts, or without knowing what happened before or after the videos to which they are responding. Lots of people pontificate as if they understand the laws involved after googling for 20 minutes. Then there’s the issue of 20/20 hindsight. I prefer to wait for the results of professional investigations and due process before jumping to adamant conclusions that may very well be completely wrong. I also don’t want to be on a plane flown by lawyers or bloggers. Butt hay, that’s just me 🙂

  75. …. and based on the video above, I wouldn’t choose David Dao as my doctor either.

  76. The 3 major US airlines are what you see. This makes me sick in my stomach. What some others have said about why no volunteers. I am always asking to be bumped. Why did the person get on the plane to be dragged off. This I want to know.

    Wait until you find out how many employees were flying on that plane that would not offer there seat up.

  77. United clearly violated the rules of its own Contract of Carriage in removing the passenger. Rule 21: “UA shall have the right to refuse to transport or shall have the right to remove from the aircraft at any point, any Passenger for the following reasons:….” There are too many reasons to list, but they all relate to termination for cause and none of listed reasons apply to the situation here. They mostly deal with safety or the passenger breaking the terms of the Contract themselves. Needing to transport your own employees is simply not a valid reason to break the Contract as written. This was not an actual overbooking situation, but overbooking is also not a listed reason for “removal”. Overbooking can only be used to deny the initial boarding, which is why airlines are careful to only let standby passengers board right at the end. Overbooking can not be used for “removal”. The passenger had a clear legal right to the seat as spelled out in his ticket and the Contract of Carriage.
    The police screwed up big time too. This was a contract dispute, not a safety issue or an emergency, so they had no legal right to physically remove the passenger without first establishing probable cause for the removal. In emergency situations, citizens are supposed to promptly obey police commands, but this was not an emergency. United’s scheduling screw-up with its 4 crew members does not invalidate the passenger’s contractual and legal rights.

  78. At this point, nothing is clear. It would be a mistake to assume it is. We have some sensational amateur video snippets that went viral, hearsay that is compounding exponentially, a flurry of yellow journalism ricocheting around the world with juicy headlines about everything from undeniable racism to abuse of a medical license and prescription drugs for gay sex, etc., etc., etc., …. psychological evaluations, mental disorders, etc., and lots of self-indulgent bloggers gleefully quoting each other as armchair experts who were not there. Ann Coulter allegedly tweeted that David Dao should be deported for illegal medical practice.

    No doubt there is lots of other evidence being compiled from the time of the event to which the public is not yet privy.

    If everything is so clear, then we would not need the teams of high powered lawyers rushing in like schools of blood-thirsty sharks to do battle on all sides of this equation. In this day in age, “justice” does not necessarily represent what we would hope it does.

    Please fasten your seat belts, and put your trays in their upright positions.

  79. A lot of people are stating, as fact, that, legally, ‘boarding’ continues until the doors are closed and the airplane starts moving.

    Uh, no.

    There is a special ‘aircraft in flight’ jurisdiction under US law that starts up at that second and special rules now apply. The doors closing and the plane moving *is* a real threshold in the law.

    So, yes there is, legally, an ‘aircraft-in-flight’ jurisdiction. But the opposite of that, what goes away when you close the doors and reappears when you open them, is ‘normal-local-jurisdiction-that-everything-is-always-under-so-we-have-no-special-name-for-it’ jurisdiction, not ‘boarding’.

    And assuming that is called ‘boarding’ is a dumbass assumption anyway…mostly because airplanes also are not legally in flight while passengers *exit*, and while they sit empty, and while they’re in maintenance.

    The boarding process is something else entirely.

    But it’s even dumber than that. What people are *really* trying to do is say is: No one was legally boarded until the second this hypothetical ‘boarding process’ ended and aircraft-in-flight started, so he could still be ‘refused boarding’.

    Basically, people are trying to claim that closing the door instantly made everyone boarded, and no one was boarded before that.

    But not only is that *not* textually supported by the law in any manner, it causes sorts of nonsense if true!

    For one problem, if the people magically board the instant the flight starts, no one could have any checked luggage, because checked luggage can only be put on a plane for *people who are boarded* on that plane. (Are they hurtling in the luggage as the plane goes down the runway?) For another fun problem, that means you could buy refundable tickets, physically get on your plane, and then get your ticket refunded because you hadn’t yet ‘boarded the plane’.

    Oh, and have fun transitioning to takeoff when *the pilot hasn’t boarded yet*.

    The entire concept is gibberish! All the laws imply that people on a plane, regardless of whether or not it is moving, have boarded when they got on the plane.

    Here’s a fun law:

    § 121.394 Flight attendant requirements during passenger boarding and deplaning.
    (a) During passenger boarding, on each airplane for which more than one flight attendant is required by § 121.391, the certificate holder may: (1) Reduce the number of required flight attendants by one, provided that: (i) The flight attendant that leaves the aircraft remains within the immediate vicinity of the door through which passengers are boarding;

    Hey, look. Passengers *are boarding* though a door! Which would mean that when they come though a door, they *are boarded*.

    And *that is how the airline itself* uses the term ‘boarding’! They say things like ‘first class boards first’ and ‘now boarding’ and whatnot. They sure seem to speak like ‘boarding’ is the process of showing your ticket, getting on the plane, and getting in your seat, not some event that happens at moment in time the doors close.

    Yes, under the law, words sometimes mean something other than the obvious, common meaning, but *this is not one of them*. There is no definition of ‘boarding’ I can find under the law. And without any sort of definition under the law, the word ‘boarding’ means what everyone (including the airline itself!) uses to mean: ‘Getting on the airplane’.

    And thus ‘denied boarding’ means ‘not allowed to get on the plane’, not ‘allowed on the plane and later removed’.

    As far as I can tell, this guy successfully boarded that airplane, legally speaking.

    And people need to stop making up claims that no one is legally boarded until the plane is about to leave *unless they can cite some law stating that*.

  80. Almost no one pays full price to fly…. All discounted tickets give the airline the right to bump you. I am certain he was chosen from a list of people who had discounted tickets.

    This guy refused to get off when he signed a contract/ purchased a bumpable ticket. He also refused to obey a flight officer on an aircraft….. a felony. Then he refused to obey a security officer in a crowded plane, another felony.

    What was the police officer supposed to do? You have an obvious felon from a crowded airplane refusing to obey the rules.

    He used force. Probably too much force…. but what was he really supposed to do?

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