United Airlines appeared to many observers to be facing a PR disaster this week after an uproar over the seemingly violent removal of a passenger from a flight — which was apparently overbooked.
Video of the incident shows a bloodied man being removed by aviation officers Sunday from United Flight 3411 in Chicago, bound for Louisville. The New York Post reports that one of the officers was later placed on leave, citing the Chicago Aviation Department saying the officer did not follow standard procedures.
The Post reports separately that United’s CEO appeared to condone the officers’ actions.
“United boss Oscar Munoz, unfazed by the criticism, sent a tone-deaf email to employees Monday that defended the staff’s actions and called the passenger ‘disruptive and belligerent,'” the paper reports. “In the message to staff, which leaked publicly, according to several reports, Munoz said he ’emphatically’ stands behind his staff and commended them for going ‘above and beyond.’”
The report quotes the memo from Munoz saying: “As you will read, this situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help. Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this.”
The Post adds: “He admitted, however, that ‘there are lessons we can learn from this experience’ and they are ‘taking a close look’ at what happened.”
The Post reported separately that United overbooked the flight and after the passenger refused to volunteer to give up his seat, he was forced off the flight to make room for an airline employee.
Here’s one of several videos circulating showing the passenger’s removal …