A passenger on an overbooked flight was forcefully and violently taken out of the plane by law enforcement when he refused to give up his seat.
Three officers were caught on video yanking the man from his seat on a United Airlines flight in Chicago, bashing his head against an arm rest, and dragging him off his seat down the aisle. He appeared to be unconscious then and bled from the mouth.
United Airlines needed to get additional staff onboard to get to Louisville to man a flight the next day. But as the flight was fully-booked, the airline appealed to passengers to voluntarily give up their seats to accommodate the staff. In order to sweeten the deal, the airline offered to give any volunteers $800, a free stay in a hotel, and fly them the next day.
There were no takers. The airline insisted that the plane not take off without their additional staff onboard. They then decided to randomly select by computer four passengers to be booted off of the flight. One couple randomly selected peacefully got off the flight. The man in question, who claimed to be a doctor who urgently needed to see his patients the next morning, refused to give up his seat. Airport law enforcement officers were then called in to intervene, but their violent actions left the rest of the passengers distressed.
Passengers screamed "my God, what are you doing?" and " this is wrong" as the officials knocked out and forcibly dragged the Asian man who was traveling with his wife from his seat. Fellow passenger Audra Bridges filmed the violent actions as they happened.
Bridges also shared that the drama did not end there as the removed passenger was able to break free after a while from the enforcers and managed to run back inside the plane. Bridges said the man had a bloody face and appeared disoriented. Medical crew were called to step in. The flight took off on Sunday night and landed two hours behind schedule.
A few passengers took to social media to share what happened, some uploading the videos they took of the incident. The passengers also aired their disagreement with the way the airline handled the situation. Some condemned the violence the bumped off passenger suffered in the hands of the officers. The passengers also said on social media that they saw kids crying and other passengers generally disturbed during the incident.
United Airlines released a statement where they apologized for the overbook situation of Flight 3411. There was no mention, however, of the violent incident involving the passenger who refused to leave the flight.
The law says overbooking is not illegal. It is often done by airlines to maximize their profit. Every year around 50,000 people with valid tickets are bumped off their flights due to an overbooking situation.The rules state that airlines need to seek out people who are willing to give up their seats in exchange for compensation before bumping anyone involuntarily. On such aspect, United Airline was on course.
It is still a matter for debate, however, whether the violent handling of the passenger can be justified. There is no word yet from the passenger who was taken off the flight and if he would pursue any legal action against the airline.