Chicago, United Express lambasted over man dragged off plane

United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized in a public statement Monday and said the airline was investigating what happened.

Video of police officers dragging a passenger from an overbooked United Airlines flight has sparked uproar on social media.

The footage taken inside the airliner shows a man being violently pulled out of his seat and dragged down the aisle.

After a three-hour delay the flight took off without the man aboard, Mr Bridges said.

"The incident on United Flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department", the department said in a statement.

United first apologized, but only for "the overbook situation", and explained that airport police had to drag a paying customer off the plane because he "refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily".

When no one came forward, the airline staff told four people, who they said were picked by a computer, to leave the plane, according to passengers.

China is the second largest aviation market in the world and a key focus for United, which claims it "operates more nonstop US-China flights, and to more cities in China, than any other airline".

The Chicago Department of Aviation has said that the security officer in question did not follow its protocol.

Passenger Audra Bridges posted the video on Facebook, and it has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, and triggered strong criticism of United.

Federal regulations do not prevent carriers from selling more seats than a flight can accommodate, a practice the airline industry says allows carriers to try to fill planes despite the number of no-shows that they can expect on any given flight.

One Twitter user in the UK, called Jordan, said: "Hi @United, I have a flight tomorrow".

In a letter to employees obtained by United States media, Oscar Munoz said he was "upset to see and hear about what happened".

"It was very traumatic", passenger Jade Kelley, who was seated across the aisle from the man, told CNN. But the airline boss also sent an internal letter, which has been seen by NBC News, telling United staff that he stood by them and appearing to criticize the conduct of the passenger.

Passengers on Flight 3411 could be heard yelling at the officers in protest.

"Americans often say they have democracy and human rights, but they can't even respect people who have different skin colors", @Nanchigirl wrote.

Other passengers said the man identified himself as a doctor, and said he couldn't give up his seat because he had to see patients in the morning. Another passenger said the man's injury came from his face hitting the arm rest as he was dragged from the plane.

A few minutes after the employees boarded, the man who was removed returned, looking dazed and saying he had to get home, Bridges said. After he entered the full plane and sat down, a United manager told passengers that four "volunteers" would have to exit the plane to make room for staff members who had to get to Louisville.

After being removed from the flight, the man manged to get back on the plane.

When they bump passengers, airlines are required to give those passengers a written description of their compensation rights.

  • Salvatore Jensen