United creates Turbulence with the Media
If you have kept up with any kind of news lately, you have probably noticed a video of a man being violently dragged off of a United Airlines flight. On Sunday, April 9, a flight boarded for Kentucky was overbooked, and the attendants went through their typical process of finding volunteers to vouch for a later flight. None of the passengers were anxious to get off and wait a full day before making it to Kentucky, so the attendants resorted to “involuntary de-boarding.” This process is not entirely random as United Airlines policy requires that they filter through the passengers based on check-in time, ticket cost, and other variables.
When they selected Dr. David Dao to be removed from the flight, sources say he was not following their instruction and refused to get off the flight. Not knowing how to deal with the situation, flight attendants called for security to help explain to Dr. Dao why he needed to de-board the plane. Passenger Tyler Bridges recalls that two officers calmly tried to talk with Dr. Dao in hopes that he would comply, but a third officer quickly joined the duo and aggressively removed him from the plane. Forcefully pulling Dr. Dao out of his seat, the officer jerked him across the row into the aisle when he started to bleed out of his mouth. The officer proceeded to pull him through the aisle to the front of the plane while passengers observed in a disturbing awe of what was occurring.
CEO Oscar Munoz said that he resisted even after his removal and ran back into the plane to escape security. Passengers captured footage of Dr. Dao clinging to the side of the plane with blood streaming down his face saying repeatedly, “I want to go home.” Passengers say that the whole event was very traumatizing and that it was difficult to sleep that night.
Dr. Dao was recently released from hospital care but will need to undergo surgery in the near future. Along with this, the doctor is now short two front teeth and is going through recovery of a broken nose and a ‘significant concussion.’ There is no lawsuit at this time, but sources say the family will definitely make United pay for the damages.
While this dramatic story has been a media hot spot for the past couple of weeks, this is not the only boarding problem United has experienced. Last Saturday, a couple was booted off a flight to Costa Rica for their wedding because they moved their seats up a few rows. The groom-to-be stated that a sleeping man was stretched across all three seats, and seeing that the flight was a tad vacant, he and his fiancé moved up three rows to keep from disturbing the man. The couple thought they were still in economy seating, but United considers that row to be economy plus. According to the couple, a flight attendant asked if they could return to their assigned seats, they did so, and an officer came to escort them off the plane. They say that everything was very calm and that they respectfully complied, but United tells a different story. The airline claims that the couple repeatedly tried to sit in an upgraded row and were resisting instructions, thus booting them to a flight the next morning. The couple seems to be very confused with everything that happened saying, “The way United Airlines handled this was really absurd.”
All of this media attention is undoubtedly terrible exposure for the international airline company, and they do not seem to be doing anything about it; regardless of this, many people will soon consider flying a more friendly sky.