United CEO tells employees 'there are lessons we can learn' after videos show passenger dragged off flight
(CHICAGO) -- United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said in an email to employees "there are lessons we can learn" after videos showing a man being forcibly removed from a United flight in Chicago sparked a firestorm online.
In several videos shared on social media, the passenger is heard screaming as he's pulled out of his seat by a security officer and dragged down the aisle of the plane by his arms.
"Oh my god, look at what you did to him!" one United passenger exclaimed at police in a video posted on Facebook.
According to Audra Bridges, who posted the Facebook video on Sunday night, the man pulled off the United flight was a doctor that had to be at a hospital in the morning. ABC News has not been able to verify the identity of the man who was removed, or whether he is a doctor.
"We are all shaky and so disgusted," she said in the post.
In the company email obtained by ABC News, Munoz talked about the incident and provided a summary of the events that transpired.
"Like you, I was upset to see and hear about what happened last night aboard United Express Flight 3411 headed from Chicago to Louisville," he said in the email, adding "there are lessons we can learn from this experience."
According to Munoz, volunteers were sought and offered up to $1,000 in compensation when a four-person Republic Airways crew needed to board to get to Louisville. The memo said the passenger was approached to "explain apologetically that he ws being denied boarding" and he "raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions."
Munoz said United agents had "no choice" but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers after the passenger continued to refuse to get off the plane a few more times. He "became more and more disruptive and belligerent," the CEO wrote in the memo.
"Chicago Aviation Security Officers were unable to gain his cooperation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist - running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials," Munoz said.
United is "taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding this incident," Munoz said in the email, "Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation."
The Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement the officer involved was placed on leave and the incident "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 U.S. Department of Transportation said it is also investigating the incident.
The Department of Transportation (USDOT) remains committed to protecting the rights of consumers and is reviewing the involuntary denied boarding of passenger(s) from United Express flight 3411 to determine whether the airline complied with the oversales rule," a DOT spokesperson said in a statement. "The Department is responsible for ensuring that airlines comply with the Department’s consumer protection regulations including its oversales rule. While it is legal for airlines to involuntary bump passengers from an oversold flight when there are not enough volunteers, it is the airline’s responsibility to determine its own fair boarding priorities.”
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