OMG No Words: Here’s the United Passenger After Being Dragged By Police

By now we all know the story of the doctor dragged off a United Express flight by police after he wouldn’t give up his seat when the airline asked.

United needed to fly 4 crew members to Louisville for a flight the next day, they offered up to $800 in compensation and a hotel room for anyone willing to fly out the next day, but there weren’t any takers.

The airline called Chicago Aviation Police, and three officers responding to the incident dragged the man off the plane. He returned later, bloodied.

CEO Oscar Munoz simply apologizes for having to reaccommodate passengers. But the real scandal here is the police response.

I hadn’t seen this video of what the man looked like when he returned to the plane. He mumbles, ” “just kill me, just kill me.”

Chicago’s Department of Aviation says,

The incident … was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by our Department. The officer has been placed on leave effective today and pending a thorough review of the situation.

The officer ‘is on leave’.

Meanwhile according to the Chicago Police Department (a different administrative unit from the Aviation Police),

[T]he man “fell” on his face and injured himself. CPD issued a statement on Monday, described the passenger as “irate,” and said aviation security officers “attempted to carry” the man off the plane “when he fell.”

While United is being roasted for this, the horrifying story here appears to be police misconduct.

Given that when crew order you off the plane, you have to get off the plane and considering law enforcement was involved and conflict ensued things could have been even worse — the passenger could have been accused of terrorism with some doubt as to whether they’d be heard from again.

Still, this is horrifying.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. United was only willing to pay $3200 to get the crew to Louisville on time. That’s how much respect they had for the passengers who would have been unable to fly to their destination the next morning.

  2. @DCS how about you order and pay for toy online from Walmart and you go to the store to pick it up. They hand you the toy and you walk out of the store and into a vehicle… then Walmart decided that some manager needed that exact book, so they come out and tell you that you must return and they’ll get you another one tomorrow morning. You say no, I paid for it and you allowed me to walk out with it. So they they call the police, and have the police/security wrestle you out of the vehicle by physical force while humiliating you in front of the public… all because they screwed up in the first place by allowing you out of the store (in this case, letting you into the plane and into your ‘assigned seat’). Do you still blame the police or would the management of Walmart hold some responsibility over this incident? They can’t hide behind a simple “well, we followed our company’s policy” That’s what you say when you simply don’t want to assume any type of responsibility.

    We should all be worried about our rights when we fly with UA in the future. Not only are we patted down like criminals (sometimes) when going through TSA, and we can’t even complain about it when some agents are flat out rude, but now we can be kicked out of our seats just because the airline said so, in order to accomocade one of their employees.

  3. @Marco — How about apples and oranges? UA did things by the book when faced with a non-compliant passenger. There is nothing on the books that allows Walmart to go after you after you’ve purchased an item in the store and try to take it away for any reason other than realizing that they might have sold you a defective or dangerous item.

    I repeat: this incident would have been a non-incident if more professional and better trained “bouncers” had handled it:

    “”Late Monday afternoon, the Chicago Department of Aviation said one of the officers involved in the incident had been placed on leave. “The incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department,” the agency said in a statement. “That officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation.””

  4. Gary: please stop supporting united on your blog. Don’t write about their credit card, frequent flyer program or any deals they are running. Please ignore them completely. I read your blog regularly but have never posted a comment. I’m a physician and feel strongly about caring for my patients. It is really a sad day in America when people are treated like animals.

  5. @DCS Are you friggen kidding me? The guy was a doctor with patients with appointments the next day at the hospital. What, exactly, were his choices here? As a physician myself, I promise you, I would have done the same goddamn thing: politely refused. (Mind you, I’m brown, so they would have probably thrown me into a deep, dark DHS hole.)

    He was already seated and calmly refused to give up his seat. None of the other passengers volunteered to give up their seat. Were they also being “non-compliant” since they were asked and refused?

    Seriously, the number of people burning out their limited neurons doing mental gymnastics to excuse the airline or the police here is astounding. When you are faced with something that is OBVIOUSLY wrong, its your duty to say something.

    What was the result and what was the benefit? Benefit: United gets a couple extra employees somewhere and saves about $100 instead of booking them on a different carrier or offering more until someone voluntarily gets off. Outcome: Old asian doctor is beaten to a bloody pulp (luckily with ample grounds for a multi-million dollar lawsuit)

    And you want to say this is reasonable decision making? Ugh.

  6. @SNorth — So, you are saying that it would have been okay if instead of a “doctor”, a “lesser” member of society had been asked to give up his seat? See the trouble with the “he is a doctor” argument?

    Besides, as a “doctor”, he should have had smarts to recognize a potentially explosive situation once the “cops” were on the scene, and simply called his office to let them know that he would not be able to make hs appointments due to unforeseen circumstances and, in case of emergency among his patients, they should go to a general hospital.

  7. @DCS You’ve got to be kidding. You must be a United shareholder or employee. Or is UA paying you to put this B.S. out there?

    There is serious doubt as to whether UA even followed their contract here. I’m not an attorney – but my understanding is that the contract for carriage allows UA to refuse boarding for oversold flights. This passenger was already seated and moreover, this was not an oversold flight. They wanted the seat to transport their own employee.

    How do you reconcile UA’s “Fly the Friendly Skies” motto with calling the police to kick someone off your plane? UA should have “re-accommodated” its own employees with a five hour drive to their destination. This is a very costly mistake and a reflection of a culture that has antipathy for its paying customers.

    I have had my own unpleasant experiences with rude UA employees. Moreover, UA should cease its false and misleading advertising immediately. This spoof video says it all

  8. >simply called his office to let them know that he would not be able to make hs appointments due to unforeseen circumstances

    Which means the doctor would LOSE MONEY (and possibly longterm customers). Why should the doctor (or any common citizen) be forced to lose money? Let the megacorp lose some money for a change…. thy make billions each year, they can afford to lose a few dollars. An average citizen cannot

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