By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video that went viral this week from United Airlines flight 3411, but if you missed the details, fasten your seatbelt for this wild ride.
Originally, United said that they had overbooked the flight. For some reason, this happens with airlines all the time and the reason they’re able to get away with it is that usually, they can convince passengers to board another flight at a later time or date. However, it came out that in this case, the flight was not overbooked; United needed to get some of their employees onto the flight in order to make sure that they would be able to make and work on a different flight.
The airline followed their usual procedure for overbooking and asked if anyone would like to give up their seats, and when no one did, they began to offer travel vouchers, but still no one wanted to budge. It was then that the airline decided to choose four passengers at random.
The first three people got up when their names were called. Then, the airline called for David Dao to get up. Dao stated that he is a doctor and was on call at a hospital at the destination, and he refused to get up from his seat so as not to keep his patients waiting. Witnesses stated that as the airline officials attempted to convince him to get up, Dao got more and more upset, and claimed that it was an issue of race.
It was then that the airline called the Chicago Department of Aviation, who sent three security officers to handle the situation. The officers talked to Dao for a moment, and then proceeded to grab him and pull him down the aisle. As he was forced out of his seat, he smacked his head against the armrest, and witnesses described that the blow seemingly “knocked him out.” It was then that Dao went completely limp and was dragged down the aisle.
The entire incident was filmed by multiple passengers and the audio included screams from passengers and from Dao himself. A few minutes later after the United crew had boarded, Dao ran back onto the plane screaming that he needed to go home, and the plane was evacuated until he was removed on a stretcher.
“I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right," United CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement. "I promise you we will do better." This was his third attempt to address the situation.
United Airlines’ stock has dropped $1.4 billion as of today. This comes only a few weeks after a previous issue with United’s policies went viral on Twitter, when passengers were instructed to change out of leggings before being allowed to board the plane because they were using an employee travel pass, which comes with a dress code.
Amid the catastrophe, it has been released that Dao will be pressing charges on both the airline and the city of Chicago, who owns the O’Hare International Airport. The officers shown dragging Dao have all been placed on leave. United has also stated that the passengers on the flight will all receive compensation for their tickets.