A passenger was dragged out of his seat and bloodied for refusing to give up a airline seat he paid for on Sunday.
After overbooking a flight from Chicago to Louisville, United asked several passengers who had already boarded to leave to make room for four United employees. One man refused to leave, claiming he was a doctor. United called airport officials, who forcibly removed him from the plane.
Video taken by a flight passenger showed the man screaming and being dragged from the plane.
“Just kill me, just kill me,” the bloodied man said in a video posted on Twitter. “I have to go home.”
Police released a statement about the incident, according to Time, that said, “Aviation Officers arrived on the scene attempted to carry the individual off of the flight when he fell. … His head subsequently struck an armrest causing injuries to his face. The man was taken to Lutheran General with non-life threatening injuries.”
According to NBC, United CEO Oscar Munoz wrote a letter to employees on Monday evening, claiming that employees "followed established procedures" when the passenger was removed.
In the email, he called the passenger "disruptive and belligerent." Munoz stated that United could learn lessons from the incident, but said: "I emphatically stand behind all of you."
He also wrote in the email, according to Reuters, “We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation). … 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 crew member instructions."
In a public statement earlier in the day, Munoz used the phrase "re-accomodate" to describe the customers booted from the flight. That statement, along with the videos, sparked outrage that spread like wildfire across the internet on Monday.
The airline company had offered vouchers and hotel stays for customers who volunteered to give up a seat, but no one opted to. According to Time, the man in the videos said he was a doctor who had to return to his patients Monday morning.
The Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement that one of the officers did not follow protocol. That officer has been placed on leave.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said it was reviewing whether United complied with overbook rules, according to Reuters, that require airlines to set guidelines on how to handle passengers if they do not volunteer to give up their seats.
"While it is legal for airlines to involuntarily 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," a Department of Transportation spokesperson said in a statement.
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