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On Sunday, a 30-second video emerged showing the aggressive removal of a passenger on a United Airlines flight leaving Chicago O’Hare for Louisville, Kentucky. Due to an overbooked flight, passengers reported that United Airlines staff were asking travelers to volunteer to take a later flight in exchange for reimbursement.
After nobody volunteered to change their travel plans last minute, United Airlines management boarded the aircraft and – using a computer – selected four passengers, at random, to be removed from the aircraft. The man in the video was one of the selected passengers who – according to other passengers – was a doctor who claimed he needed to be in Louisville the next morning to see patients.
After refusing to leave the aircraft, the video shows three security guards forcibly ejecting the man from the plane. According to a statement from United Airlines, “Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation.”
After the video was released, Twitter erupted with protests against United Airlines and the appalling way in which they treated their passengers. Airfarewatchdog President and seasoned airline/travel expert, George Hobica, explains that United Airlines could have easily avoided this public relations disaster. “Had [United Airlines] increased the bumping compensation offer, either before boarding or once boarded. Whatever it cost…$1000, $2000, $3000…would have been far cheaper than the cost to its reputation and the loss of business. You can be sure that passengers, at least this week, will choose any other airline to get where they’re going.”