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United Airlines CEO issues a proper apology

"No one should ever be mistreated this way," Oscar Munoz said

By Verinia Khoo | Published: 12 Apr 2017

Dragged off flight
Photo: united/Instagram

[Updated 12 April 2017] United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has finally issued a proper apology to the mistreated passenger known as Dr David Dao who was dragged off flight 3411 on Sunday evening. 

The statement reads:

The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologise to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way. I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right. It's never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what's broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We'll communicate the results of our review by April 30th. I promise you we will do better.

Sincerely, Oscar.

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If you were on social media last night, you'd have seen the flurry of angry tweets and status updates on the horrible mistreatment of one United Airlines flight 3411's passengers prior to its departure from Chicago, Illinois to Louisville, Kentucky on Sunday evening.

In the now-viral videos that were posted by two other passengers, a Chinese man was seen screaming as he was forcibly removed from his seat and dragged down the aisle by an aviation security officer. Other passengers protested to the mistreatment of the man, but their pleas to stop fell on deaf ears.

We break down what happened, according to reports and an open letter written by United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz to his employees.

Why the man was removed from the flight
Flight 3411 to Louisville, Kentucky had been overbooked and United urgently needed to get four of its employees to the same destination. According to Charlie Hobart, a United spokesman, four passengers were selected to disembark the plane; three left willingly, but not the man who had to be dragged off.

Why he didn't want to leave the plane
According to another passenger onboard named Tyler Bridges, the man was heard telling a flight employee: "I'm not getting off the plane. I'm a doctor; I have to see patients in the morning."

In the video Bridges posted on Twitter, the man was also seen re-entering the plane, face bloodied from having fallen onto the armrest during the altercation with the security officer, repeatedly saying "I have to go home." Reports say he was eventually removed from the flight on a stretcher after he collapsed into a seat. According to Kaylyn Davis, whose husband Doyle Davis was on the plane, the flight ran two hours late.

How the staff handled it
Hobart said that they "had asked several times, politely" for the man to give up his seat. "We had a customer who refused to leave the aircraft," Hobart told The New York Times. "We have a number of customers on board that aircraft, and they want to get to their destination on time and safely, and we want to work to get them there. Since that customer refused to leave the aircraft, we had to call the police and they came on board."

The customer thought he was being targeted for his race
When the United employee told the man that security would be called to remove him; he had complained that he had been singled out because he was Chinese.

The aviation security officer who dragged the man out has been placed on leave
"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 Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement. "That officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation."

The airline has not publically acknowledged the extreme manner in which the customer was treated
In an email to his employees, United Airlines Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz said that the passenger had "defied" security officers.

"We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation)," Munoz wrote. "When we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with the crew member instructions."

Instead, it issued a statement about everything else

This isn't the first time that United Airlines has had a PR nightmare. Remember when it wouldn't allow two teenage girls in leggings to board a flight because they were "not properly clothed"? That happened only two weeks ago. To top it all off, people are pointing out how ironic it is that Oscar Munoz was recently named PRWeek's Communicator of the Year. 

Related: Here's why we love the all-new BMW 5 Series


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