The Real Reason a Man Was Dragged Off That United Flight, and How to Stop It From Happening Again

Sunday’s incident where a man was dragged off a United Express plane and bloodied was terrible. It’s excruciating to watch the video of the incident unfolding, and later of the disoriented man mumbling “just kill me.”

United is taking the bulk of the blame here, and that’s probably their own fault. Their PR response has been disastrous, with United CEO Oscar Munoz apologizing for having to re-accommodate passengers. As Jimmy Kimmel said last night,

“It’s like how we ‘re-accommodated’ El Chapo out of Mexico,” Kimmel said. “That is such sanitized, say-nothing, take-no-responsibility, corporate B.S. speak. I don’t know how the guy who sent that tweet didn’t vomit when he typed it out.”

This was a tough situation all-around for which there were no good solutions. And things turned from bad to worse when a passenger refused to get off the plane when told to do so by the airline and by police. And it became the source of worldwide outrage when the police overreacted, dragged him off, and bloodied him.

There are a lot of myths about the situation, and it’s leading people to some bad conclusions.

  • This didn’t happen because United sold too many tickets. United Express (Republic Airlines) had to send four crew members to work a flight the next morning. The weekend was operationally challenging, this was a replacement crew, if the employees didn’t get to Louisville a whole plane load of passengers were going to be ‘bumped’ when that flight was cancelled, and likely other passengers on other flights using that aircraft would have their own important travel plans screwed up as well.

  • United couldn’t have just sent another plane to take their crew even if they had such a plane it’s not clear they had the crew to operate it legally, or that they could have gotten the plane back to Chicago in time legally so prevent ‘bumping’ via cancellation the whole plane load of passengers it was supposed to carry next.

  • If the passenger could have just taken Uber, why not the crew? because United doesn’t get to transport its crew any way it wishes whenever it wishes, they’re bound by union contracts and in any case they were following standard established procedures. We can debate those procedures, that’s productive, but United didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.

  • United should have just kept increasing the denied boarding offer passengers didn’t willingly get off at $800, they should have gone to $1000 (would that have made a difference?) or $5000 or $100,000 — it’s not the passengers’ fault United didn’t have enough seats. Though the time this would have taken might have lost a takeoff window or taken time where the crew went illegal (and the whole flight had to cancel) or the replacement crew wouldn’t get the legally required rest.

    More importantly, United didn’t do it because Department of Transportation regulations set maximum required compensation for involuntary denied boarding (in this case 4 times the passenger’s fare paid up to a maximum of $1350). So they’re not going to offer more than that for voluntary denied boardings, especially since the violent outcome here wasn’t expected and the United Express gate agent had no authority to do more.

I’m being called very terrible things in the comments that I won’t reprint here in this post. What happened to the man was terrible but it was a difficult situation all around, he should have complied when ordered off the plan by United and then by Chicago Aviation Police. It was a terrible situation for him, but one that at that point could foreseeably have gotten worse. I’m just glad he wasn’t accused of disrupting the flight as part of a terrorist plot that sort of thing can happen in confrontations like this.

The Chicago Aviation Police overreacted and appear to have used way too much force. One officer is already on leave because of the incident, the Aviation Police recognize some fault is likely there — and that’s a pretty high hurdle to climb considering the Chicago Police Department immediately stood up for an officer by claiming horribly that he had simply ‘fallen on his face’.

Is it possible that if circumstances were different — if different things had been done before Sunday — then the outcome would have been different? Sure. Although what those things are, what the consequences of those things would be, are debatable — and most people doing the debating don’t have much or even any information on which to base their judgments.

Fault here lies with:

  • United for not having as many seats as they sold, although it wasn’t because they sold more seats than the plane held, it was because their operation became a mess and they needed to salvage that to inconvenience the fewest passengers overall. It wasn’t “to maximize their profits” although they certainly wanted to limit their losses by limiting passenger inconvenience.

  • The passenger who should have gotten off the plane when ordered to do so. It sucked for him and wasn’t his fault, but refusing airline and police instructions unless designed to provoke a violent response for media attention to promote a civil rights cause is a bad idea.

  • The Chicago Aviation Police shouldn’t have responded with the force they did. They’re the most to blame. If they hadn’t used as much force this whole thing would never even have been a story.

United’s statements backing their employee, refusing to name the victim, or acknowledge that the police really did hurt him are deplorable.

But the situation itself lands mostly at the feet of the police, who appear to recognize this based on actions thus far.

So what do we do to prevent this in the future? The truth is there’s not very much. Running an airline is hard. Weather and mechanical problems and back luck and IT problems cancel and delay flights, so they work hard to recover.

Maybe the maximum denied board compensation should be even higher, though that’s not clearly an issue. When the Department of Transportation began regulating denied boarding in the 1970s, there were about 150,000 involuntary denied boardings in the U.S. per year — and now with many more passengers the number there are in the 40,000s. As flights have gotten more full, the percentage of passengers denied boarding has gone down.

The real solution here is to change the culture of law enforcement in aviation. As soon as there’s even a misunderstanding between passengers and crew, that can trigger law enforcement. The assumption is that the passenger is always wrong, the airline backs its crew, and there’s tremendous risk to the public. Not every customer service situation is a crime.

This is in no way limited to being a United issue, it’s endemic to American society and aviation as a whole. It’s a function of the growth of the security state in response to 9/11. We’ve come to accept it, and indeed we get it from the TSA day in and day out. Until that changes, incidents like these are likely to repeat themselves.

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 Express (Republic Airlines) had to send four crew members to work a flight the next morning. The weekend was operationally challenging, this was a replacement crew, if the employees didn’t get to Louisville a whole plane load of passengers were going to be ‘bumped’ when that flight was cancelled, and likely other passengers on other flights using that aircraft would have their own important travel plans screwed up as well.… […]


  1. This is really a difficult situation.
    I feel sorry the judge who has to sort it out.

    In light of this situation, I bet being a judge is one of the worst jobs – but maybe not.

  2. This writer is incredibly biased against airline passengers and says many things in this article that are plainly stupid. Just two examples:

    “It wasn’t ‘to maximize their profits’ although they certainly wanted to limit their losses…”

    Really? If you lose less money in business, that means you make more money. And you’re a so-called “expert” in the airline business…?

    “…refusing airline and police instructions unless designed to provoke a violent response for media attention to promote a civil rights cause…”

    So you think Dr. Dao planned in advance to sustain a concussion, a broken nose, and lose two teeth because he wanted “media attention” to “promote a civil rights cause”?

    What kind of person says things like that? So this is what the world looks like when you have a “view from the wing”…?

  3. I agree with the blog post’s core point that airlines have adopted a very antagonistic attitude towards passengers, where even mild questioning can be immediately construed as a security threat and grounds for arrest.

    Buried in the blog post is a comment that the airline employees weren’t empowered to offer higher compensation. They also aren’t empowered to think creatively. If an offer of an $800 voucher plus a hotel and a flight the next day isn’t enough, perhaps offer $500 cash, an $800 voucher, and an immediate Uber ride to Louisville. That’s a far less disruptive offer: it provides actual cash, plus an voucher for United travel, and a same-day arrival in Louisville. But of course airlines have elminated the ability of employees to be creative.

  4. The men were not Sworn Law Enforcement Officers. You do not have to follow unlawful instruction from Police or Security. It’s not physically safe to refuse, but you can. The man was seated on the plane, enough said. The airline is responsible for securing volunteers to give up their seat BEFORE the passengers board the plan. United employees and their CEO screwed up and there is no denying that fact.

  5. Excuse me, but United knew exactly how many ppl had checked into the fight vs. how many seats the plane actually had.

    This situation should have been resolved at the boarding gate, before the Dr. Or anyone else boarded the plane.

    The author of this article is full of excuses and misses the point.

  6. He bought and paid for his ticket it was his seat he should have rights why should he have give his seat up do they think that their behavior is exceptable just because they are security officers they should get jail time that is abuse I don’t care how they try and justify their bahaciors just my opinion

  7. stan, I’m going to defer to a legal expert on this one. A former DOT Inspector General:

    “This wasn’t a true overbooking. This wasn’t a denied booking situation, and they complied with none of the FAA regulations. For example, this guy was entitled to be presented with a piece of paper that explains his rights and the criteria that the airline used to select him.”

    Here he is, prior to the violence, asking for the criteria that were used to select him:

    Logic would also dictate that the selection process was not random and that United is lying through its teeth. Dr. Dao unfortunately has a brain and was using it, questioning how it could be that he was randomly selected. He played in the World Series of Poker so I think he understands how random selection actually works.

    If you need four seats you would choose any combination of passengers of the same priority that results in four vouchers. Dr. Dao was traveling as a couple with his wife. Let’s just think logically, since a computer runs on logic, I need four empty seats, why would I select a combination resulting in my paying out five vouchers given that three other unrelated persons were selected. All the eyewitness accounts point to a gate agent on a power trip.

    Last, but not least, even if he was ‘randomly’ selected it would be stupid to kick physicians off the flight, almost as stupid as kicking off a commercial pilot. In this case it would be two physicians, since it would also have resulted in his wife, who was not selected in coming off. Case in point:

    For an eyewitness account from a retired Marine on the flight:

    “One person yanked him out of his seat and then I saw them starting to drag Dao,” Fuller said. A woman ran to the front of the plane shouting, “What are you doing to my husband?”

    “She kept shouting,” Fuller said. “The police kept telling her she needed to come out or they were going to arrest her. She finally stepped outside.”

    [Video shows man being dragged off United flight after refusing to give up his seat]

  8. The problem though was that he was not denied boarding. He had already boarded and was seated. All the contractural issues disappear as they are based around the normal procedure of being denied boarding due to over booking etc, which was not the case here. In which case United are did not only make a bad situation worse, with the help of the aviation police, but they instigated the situation n the first place. I think this one is going to hurt them a little.

  9. Someone told me that they saw a post on Facebook about the man initially agreeing to give up his seat but when his wife weighed in he changed his mind. Can you find out if this is true?

  10. Unless broken, there should have been one flight attendant jump seat available on this particular aircraft, Embraer RJ170. The United Airlines gate agent or manager could have easily put one of the 4 crew members in the jump seat. Problem solved.

  11. @Gary, if “Scary Mary can’t be relied on, how about an Ivy League law professor? Jens David Ohlin of Cornell Law wrote this guest column for Newsweek and cites everything I and others have earlier regarding United’s breach of their Contract of Carriage with Dao:

    Ohlin’s specialty might not be contract law, but I suspect that this is not remotely a complicated contract law case. For most of us who know how to comprehend English, the contract in this case is not that difficult to read or understand. It seems pretty black and white as applies here. What’s difficult to understand is the argument that it allows United to 1) demand Dao exit the plane, and then 2) call in the authorities to do their bidding when he refused. So far nobody provided a reasonable explanation as to why United was right – specifically citing clear language in the contract to back their argument. Those in defense of Dao’s contact position quotes some fairly unambiguous CoC language. Those who defend United have to twist the contract’s words and meanings. Ohlin agrees with the straightforward reading of the contract.

  12. My feeling is that the man’s “foreign” appearance was part of the reason the airport police treated him the way they did.
    It’s very probable that, in the wake of 9/11, many people decided that they needed to “protect America from foreigners” and became TSA agents for that reason. Given the melting pot nature of this nation, we are going to have to address that culture of xenophobia in general, and eradicate it from our security forces.

  13. The individuals that removed Dr. Dao should be brought up on charges and then hanged for their involvement. This is so similar to NAZI GERMANY during the Hitler rein! This is so intolerable. Those individuals should hang for this this!

  14. The individuals that removed Dr. Dao should be brought up on charges and then hanged for their involvement. This is so similar to NAZI GERMANY during the Hitler rein! This is so intolerable. Those individuals should hang for this this!

  15. All you paid trolls and misinformed public should know that the smear campaign against the doctor is as ignorant as your comments. The guy with the criminal past was not the one being bloodied and dragged out. The two shared the same first and last name but not middle names. The Victim is David Thanh Duc Dao, a doctor as well as father of 4 other doctors. The one whose past record was used to discredit the victim is David Anh Duy Dao. And this case is about passenger rights, not about what a person has done after having been convicted and paid the penalty for his crime, to deserve getting beat up and dragged off the plane. I don’t think that Nunoz, the airline, the gate keeper and the officers knew before hand and conspired to do so. And if they did know and follow through with their crime, it would be a bigger crime. Do unto others what you would have them do to you. That’s the golden rule. What good is it to lie for the perpetrators and lose your soul? What happened to Dr. Dao should never happen to anyone.

  16. I appreciate the article. To the person who says this wasn’t the guy who had the criminal record, that has been proven to be incorrect. This is the guy, and whether or not it should have been published that he traded drugs for sex and had multiple felonies, a person’s character can be relevant in association with something like this. I think that United’s options were somewhat limited, and I do not know why he was picked when he had other family members traveling. That part I would want answered, but I’ve never met a respectable doctor who would rather “go to jail” than abide by a request by authorities and then let himself be dragged out forcibly from his seat. Doesn’t make sense. A lot of things here don’t make sense, but people are so vocal and opinionated when they don’t really have any knowledge of the facts. That’s what horrifies me about the masses in this country.

  17. “Maximum required compensation”. Also known as the minimum. They can and should have offered more, as has happened before and since.

  18. Code of Federal Regulations Title 14 › Chapter II › Subchapter A › Part 253 mandates that commercial airlines are to be ruled by a Contract of Carriage.

    Here’s the pertinent section in United’s CoC:

    UA shall have the right to refuse to transport or shall have the right to remove from the aircraft at any point, any Passenger for the following reasons:

    Breach of Contract of Carriage – Failure by Passenger to comply with the Rules of the Contract of Carriage.

    Government Request, Regulations or Security Directives – Whenever such action is necessary to comply with any government regulation, Customs and Border Protection, government or airport security directive of any sort, or any governmental request for emergency transportation in connection with the national defense.

    Force Majeure and Other Unforeseeable Conditions – Whenever such action is necessary or advisable by reason of weather or other conditions beyond UA’s control including, but not limited to, acts of God, force majeure, strikes, civil commotions, embargoes, wars, hostilities, terrorist activities, or disturbances, whether actual, threatened, or reported.

    Search of Passenger or Property – Whenever a Passenger refuses to submit to electronic surveillance or to permit search of his/her person or property.

    Proof of Identity – Whenever a Passenger refuses on request to produce identification satisfactory to UA or who presents a Ticket to board and whose identification does not match the name on the Ticket. UA shall have the right, but shall not be obligated, to require identification of persons purchasing tickets and/or presenting a ticket(s) for the purpose of boarding the aircraft.

    Failure to Pay – Whenever a Passenger has not paid the appropriate fare for a Ticket, Baggage, or applicable service charges for services required for travel, has not paid an outstanding debt or Court judgment, or has not produced satisfactory proof to UA that the Passenger is an authorized non-revenue Passenger or has engaged in a prohibited practice as specified in Rule 6.

    Across International Boundaries – Whenever a Passenger is traveling across any international boundary if:

    The government required travel documents of such Passenger appear not to be in order according to UA’s reasonable belief; or

    Such Passenger’s embarkation from, transit through, or entry into any country from, through, or to which such Passenger desires transportation would be unlawful or denied for any reason.

    Safety – Whenever refusal or removal of a Passenger may be necessary for the safety of such Passenger or other Passengers or members of the crew including, but not limited to:
    Passengers whose conduct is disorderly, offensive, abusive, or violent;

    Passengers who fail to comply with or interfere with the duties of the members of the flight crew, federal regulations, or security directives;
    Passengers who assault any employee of UA, including the gate agents and flight crew, or any UA Passenger;

    Passengers who, through and as a result of their conduct, cause a disturbance such that the captain or member of the cockpit crew must leave the cockpit in order to attend to the disturbance;

    Passengers who are barefoot or not properly clothed;

    Passengers who appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs to a degree that the
    Passenger may endanger the Passenger or another Passenger or members of the crew (other than a qualified individual whose appearance or involuntary behavior may make them appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs);

    Passengers wearing or possessing on or about their person concealed or unconcealed deadly or dangerous weapons; provided, however, that UA will carry law enforcement personnel who meet the qualifications and conditions established in 49 C.F.R. §1544.219;

    Passengers who are unwilling or unable to follow UA’s policy on smoking or use of other smokeless materials;

    Unless they comply with Rule 6 I), Passengers who are unable to sit in a single seat with the seat belt properly secured, and/or are unable to put the seat’s armrests down when seated and remain seated with the armrest down for the entirety of the flight, and/or passengers who significantly encroach upon the adjoining passenger’s seat;

    Passengers who are manacled or in the custody of law enforcement personnel;

    Passengers who have resisted or may reasonably be believed to be capable of resisting custodial supervision;

    Pregnant Passengers in their ninth month, unless such Passenger provides a doctor’s certificate dated no more than 72 hours prior to departure stating that the doctor has examined and found the Passenger to be physically fit for air travel to and from the destination requested on the date of the flight, and that the estimated date of delivery is after the date of the last flight;

    Passengers who are incapable of completing a flight safely, without requiring extraordinary medical assistance during the flight, as well as Passengers who appear to have symptoms of or have a communicable disease or condition that could pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others on the flight, or who refuse a screening for such disease or condition. (NOTE: UA requires a medical certificate for Passengers who wish to travel under such circumstances. Visit UA’s website,, for more information regarding UA’s requirements for medical certificates);

    Passengers who fail to travel with the required safety assistant(s), advance notice and/or other safety requirements pursuant to Rules 14 and 15;

    Passengers who do not qualify as acceptable Non-Ambulatory Passengers (see Rule 14);
    Passengers who have or cause a malodorous condition (other than individuals qualifying as disabled);

    Passengers whose physical or mental condition is such that, in United’s sole opinion, they are rendered or likely to be rendered incapable of comprehending or complying with safety instructions without the assistance of an escort. The escort must accompany the escorted passenger at all times; and

    Unaccompanied passengers who are both blind and deaf, unless such passenger is able to communicate with representatives of UA by either physical, mechanical, electronic, or other means. Such passenger must inform UA of the method of communication to be used; and

    Passengers who are unwilling to follow UA’s policy that prohibits voice calls after the aircraft doors have closed, while taxiing in preparation for takeoff, or while airborne.

    Any Passenger who, by reason of engaging in the above activities in this Rule 21, causes UA any loss, damage or expense of any kind, consents and acknowledges that he or she shall reimburse UA for any such loss, damage or expense. UA has the right to refuse transport, on a permanent basis, to any passenger who, by reason of engaging in the above activities in this Rule 21, causes UA any loss, damage or expense of any kind, or who has been disorderly, offensive, abusive, or violent. In addition, the activities enumerated in H) 1) through 8) shall constitute a material breach of contract, for which UA shall be excused from performing its obligations under this contract.
    UA is not liable for its refusal to transport any passenger or for its removal of any passenger in accordance with this Rule. A Passenger who is removed or refused transportation in accordance with this Rule may be eligible for a refund upon request. See Rule 27 A). As an express precondition to issuance of any refund, UA shall not be responsible for damages of any kind whatsoever. The passenger’s sole and exclusive remedy shall be Rule 27 A).

    The good Doctor fell under none of the conditions listed above, and there is nothing in this CoC that allows the airline to remove any seated passenger to accomodate any other passenger of airline employee for any reason.

    UA acted in viopation of Federal law and their own Contract of Carriage.

  19. Dear Editor,
    It seems that the media is trying to make United Airline CEO Oscar Munoz the bad guy regarding the ejecting the of infamous Dr. David Dao of Elizabethtown, Ky who refused to get off an overbooked plane. Dr. Dao had his medical license suspended for about 10 years for illegally prescribing painkillers, including to a patient in exchange for sex. I wonder if Dr. Dao paid income taxes on the $234,664 he claimed to have won playing poker while he was suspended.
    Anyone who flew in the time line where Dr. Dao was disruptive knows that all of the airlines were trying to compensate for Delta Airlines scheduling disaster. Without the minimum legal requirement for aircrews, airliners can’t fly. So the getting crew members to the aircraft deficient in staff would allow hundreds and hundreds of innocent passengers to make their flight. Dr. Dao could have driven back to Ky. from Chicago in 4.5 hours for the “sake” of his patients. But No! He was willing to delay “his” plane and the plane/planes which needed crews and have his 15 mins of fame. All I know is that United Airlines accommodated me after I missed their flight thanks to Delta screwing up. They did not have to do it as I did not have a refundable ticket. But they did which demonstrate sense of corporate compassion. You know had Dr. Dao’s plane crashed with the loss of everybody how many of you would have voiced a protest anywhere? It would be old news within 48 hours. Dr. Dao, get a life.

  20. 14 CFR 250.5 amounts should be viewed as minimum amounts the airlines is required to reimburse. Airlines are free to offer more, as Delta recently increase their limit to $10,000. However, that doesn’t matter anyways because 14 CFR 250.5 only applies to passengers “denied boarding”, in this case the man was boarded.

  21. Joe Dupont, ignorant you are. I am not going to fact check your claims about Dr. Dao’s license, or taxes, at it’s irrelevant. Dao purchased and paid for a United airline ticket, and he is entitled to take his assigned seat and fly to his destination. The flight was not overbooked as originally lied about by some. As for stating the Dr. could drive home, that’s not your suggestion to make. Obviously he wanted to fly, and had every right to do so.

    The United Airlines CEO shot himself in the foot with opening his mouth before learning the facts. He should have let the PR department handle this issue, but he jumped out there and made a fool of himself and caused great financial harm to United, and the stockholders.

    Dr. Dao was not disruptive until the Security Guards ordered him to follow an unlawful act. A person is not obligated to adhere to unlawful commands of any acting as Law Enforcement or Security. It’s not advisable to disobey the unlawful command, but legal to do so.

    The flight crew was negligent in seeking Security interaction as Dr. Dao had done nothing wrong. The crew made the mistake of letting passengers board the plane and take their seats. The need to find volunteers should have been completed BEFORE passengers boarded the plane. That’s the proper procedure of all airlines.

    The crew in need of seats were not more important than the passengers seated on this flight who had paid and boarded. Yes, a missing crew can start a domino affect, but, you don’t batter and drag off a plane one passenger to make future passengers happy.

    As for you being previously accommodated on a United flight, great, but has nothing to do with this event.

    So, in conclusion, learn the facts, before harming the reputation of a total stranger. Thank you.

  22. “Yes, a missing crew can start a domino affect, but, you don’t batter and drag off a plane one passenger to make future passengers happy. ”

    No, but when you ask someone to cooperate with you and they start screaming and are talking on their phone about suing United and wanting to go to jail rather than get off, then all the passengers are going to be affected. His behavior has by then become erratic and questionably unsafe for the flight, and the company/staff/whoever are more than within the law to have him removed. They do it many times when someone is behaving erratic.

    What a professional ‘”doctor” would do is get out of his seat, go with the officers to a private place in the front of the plane, ask why he was chosen, and ask how this could be settled if he ‘indeed’ has to get back quickly to see patients. A larger settlement perhaps? , a calm ‘threat’ to get his lawyer involved, etc. An educated and professional person does not behave this way. Everyone claims to know everything that went on, and United is in a position that no matter what happened before Dr. Dao was pulled out of his seat, they will have to appease him and the public. He has done way more damage to the airline (not that the public loves air travel anyway) than they did to him. I guarantee he is lying in bed counting his millions (leftover after the lawyer) and so happy he let himself get dragged down the aisle. I don’t know what this man’s character is currently, but this was a big show and there are videos from behind his seat that record the conversations. Of course, those aren’t shown by the media. I am NOT a corporate shill, so don’t go there. However, the public will believe anything if they see just the right video clip. I’m so disappointed that people have a knee-jerk reaction and don’t think of why people behave like they do. Dr. Dao is responsible for his “beating”. I’d be super-miffed if this happened to me, but I sure would not handle it like he did. I’d seek recourse, but I wouldn’t throw a 2-year-old tantrum in front of a bunch of people.

  23. Well argued, Rita. Gracias, Luis G. for your comment.

    United and its security agency should agree to a huge settlement.

  24. I’m astonished by the number of citizens who keep blaming the victim. The point everyone keeps glossing over; Dr. Dao DID NOT HAVE TO EXIT. The plane was not overbooked. He was provoked, and therefore his demeanor, whatever it was, was justified. Not one of us knows if Dr. Dao had experienced ethnic discrimination before, and maybe he decided he had endured enough. Again, not a defense, but an everyday reality. We don’t know what went through his mind, and it doesn’t matter. The airline crew was wrong. I will continue to direct your attention to the fact Dr. Dao was already seated. Once the passenger is on the plane, the forced volunteer departure is improper. The force used to pull him out of his seat was legally unjustified, and therefore, unlawful. Prior to his being told to exit, he didn’t display any inappropriate behavior. Again, he was PROVOKED. He was defending himself, lawfully. Citizens don’t get to dump their suggestions as to how he should have handled himself in this situation. United was wrong. The CEO was seriously wrong in his first response. Dr. Dao is a victim, and he is entitled to his own reaction. I’m confident if this case goes to court, the Judge will rule in favor of Dr. Dao. United will settle, as it’s to their benefit to settle and get this debacle out of the public arena. I watched/listened to the various videos many times, and I was unable to hear clearly the words Dr. Dao said into his phone. I doubt anyone else could either. I have vast experience preparing cases for adjudication. Dr. Dao is the victim. He’s justified until proven otherwise.

  25. Absoutely, Rita. I mean, people can keep taking the “CEO Munoz” approach of blaming Dao, and he took it all back several days later…. so, that speaks volumes.

    Also, if he had done something illegal, then he should have been arrested prior to being physically removed/beat up. Why wasn’t he arrested? If he did something SO serious… well, the answer is that he did nothing illegal. In fact, United could have CYA by having him arrested. but then they realized they had no grounds to…. oops. maybe someone should have thought of that before he got all bloodied up.

    Regardless of his background, this could have happened to anyone. Certainly, United didn’t look at his background and then decide it was ok to have him physically removed. They would have been happy to involuntarily remove any of those passengers on the flight that day.

    In addition, look, Dao protested about being involuntarily removed off a flight he already boarded, his luggage in the plane, his stuff in the overhead bins. Other people would too. I’ve personally never seen it and would have questioned it too. And guess what? Dao was RIGHT. it was a bad policy, and now United and other airlines have changed their policies, just days later, saying that they now won’t ever remove a seated passenger from a flight for a crew member. so… why shouldn’t he have protested this? The airlines did exactly what he was arguing for just days later. ummm…. maybe because he was right?

  26. @Donna Hill, I can’t believe you are serious. You put “beating” in sneer quotes, as if he wasn’t beaten. A concussion, a broken nose, two teeth knocked out, visibly bloodied and battered. In what world is that not a beating? Your initial point, that most people (professionals or not) would cooperate, is correct, but it doesn’t excuse his treatment. It’s equivalent to saying there is no problem with unarmed people being killed by police, since if everyone would cooperate at all times no one would get shot. Being uncooperative doesn’t justify getting beaten or killed.

  27. I think one of the larger issues (that has troubled me for a long time) is the initiation of force by law enforcement, or security, in situations that are inherently nonviolent, or where the threat or use of violence escalates the matter. Dao was not being arrested; however, even if he were, the use of force would not be warranted. Inflicting serious (and perhaps permanent) emotional and physical trauma on someone who is not a clear, immediate threat to himself or others should NOT be an option in such scenarios. I mean, it’s off the table — even if the time, cost, and inconvenience of nonviolent solutions likely surpass those of possible forcible ones. Would a multimillion-dollar settlement satisfy you if cop violence left you with nerve damage, or chronic pain, or diminished capacity, or even psychological damage for the rest of your life?

    not be an option in such sc
    ALWAYS make it the last resort — no matter be trump has not yet been judged guilty of a criminal offense

  28. @Donna Hill, Imagine if this happened to your husband on the plane, and some important event was happening tomorrow. First, they picked your husband but not you, according to you your husband should cooperate and get off the plane without you. What if you had been asleep in your seat and not noticed your husband getting taken off the plane? What if he refused to go because he didn’t want to be separated from you and was beaten unconscious and dragged off the plane? Would that be your husband’s fault?
    What if this had been a white woman instead of an Asian man? Would she have been treated this way if she refused to leave the plane?

  29. I’m surprised that your extensive knowledge as cited on your brief bio fails to mention that he VIOLATED the Contract of Carriage that actually sets the policy for this event. Volunteers first then they chose people at RANDOM and failure to abide by these conditions violets the contract and results in a denial of service. Once he said no, he was no longer a welcomed guest.

    The only thing United is guilty of is bad PR response and failure to find a way to make customers actually read the terms and conditions before buying a ticket.

    My failure of a stipulation of a contract doesn’t place fault on the company I was in agreement with. Nor does it place fault on aviation police for forcefully removing me as I refused to exit a plane I was no longer a passenger of… Both by violating the contract and by the rules of overlooking… Nor does it place “excessive force” blame on someone because I physically struggled.

  30. Wrong you are. The airline is misusing the Contract in this case. The airline lacked legitimate cause to seek volunteers to give up their seats. The plane was not overbooked as first claimed. Regardless, the airline did not follow their own Contract. Volunteers must be found BEFORE passengers are boarded. Once seated, a passenger enjoys legal expectation of flying to their destination.

    Clearly the airline industry did not consider passengers flying with family members if they resort to computer generated forced volunteers to exit the plane. What if a parent is selected and their 3 year old is left to fly? Yes, I am resorting to what if. Based on my reading, Dr. Dao was flying with his wife and she wasn’t selected to get of the plane. That’s ridiculous.

    Since the airline failed to follow their own procedure, they lacked authority to call in Security to remove a legally seated passenger. People do not have to follow an unlawful command. As I stated before, it’s not advisable, for safety reasons, to disobey, but it’s legal to do so.

    The Security personnel jeopardized their own jobs, and they will be dealt with. I surmise loss of jobs is going to be the end result. Civil lawsuits will more than likely be filed in the court system against the Security personnel.

    As for the airline employees, let’s hope retraining is in their future. The CEO will be dusting off his resume. He was hired to improve the airlines, and he’s all but bankrupted them with his initial offensive statement. NEVER blame the victim.

  31. “More importantly, United didn’t do it because Department of Transportation regulations set maximum required compensation for involuntary denied boarding”

    Ah, if only he was actually y’know denied boarding then this statement would matter. In fact, he was lawfully and legally boarded.

    United is wrong on this in every conceivable way.

  32. Just a point to make here. Most security guards make rather low wages and most of their job is to deal with difficult combative passengers. I am certain the security guards were told to remove this passenger from the plane. They were probably given little to no detail about why. So, being a security officer who wants to keep their job, that’s what they are gonna do. UNITED IS MOST DEFINATELY 100% responsible here. Don’t be filled by their big money and high powered lawyers.. The security guards were simply doing what they were told to do. United is hiding behind this. I hope Dr. Dao gets big bucks in court.

  33. I am well aware Security guards are paid poorly. Most are wannabe Police Officers, but fail to meet qualifications. That said, if they can’t do their job without using excessive force, then they deserve to be fired. United is wrong in this particular situation, but so too are the guards. It is their responsibility to ask questions of the airline BEFORE approaching the subject, Dr. Dao. Their behavior and actions were criminal in nature, and they will be dealt with accordingly.

    There is nothing in this CoC that allows the airline to remove any seated passenger to accomodate any other passenger of airline employee for any reason.

    UA acted in viopation of Federal law and their own Contract of Carriage.

    Also what does his personal life have to do with anything. He is a paying customer who was being bumped or “refusal to transport” when he already boarded which is not legal. This can only happen before he boarded unless he was a danger to the plane and other passengers which he was not.

  35. [Redacted -gary] He should’ve got up. He agreed to the terms and conditions. He checked a little box that says he’d get up if they needed the seat for exactly this.

    The fact that he got a settlement is [Redacted -gary] ridiculous. [Redacted -gary] should have gone to jail for disrupting the peace.

    United gets bad press for this? It was security that kicked his ass (as they should’ve). I’ll still fly United.

  36. The fault should be on the airline, it should be on the police/security officers, but it definitely shouldn’t be on Mr. Dao. There are groups out there trying to twist and cloud the big picture with fine prints and small details. “They agreed to the terms when buying the tickets.” “They should obey the instruction from the officers.” “Look at his doctor credentials.” Folks, none of those matters. Look at the big picture and see what’s really wrong with this industry. If we “agreed” to all terms or “obey” instructions from authorities even when they are morally wrong, then black people will still be at the back of the bus and out of restaurants and colleges will still only have white students. Sometimes, it takes a brave soul, or a stubborn one, to make changes for the better. Putting Mr. Dao aside, at least what we get out of this is it puts a spotlight on the airlines practice of over-selling seats in the name of profit over people.

  37. You’re obviously a paid stooge for the airline industry

    Just curious, how much did they pay you for this drivel

    I’m not even going to bother tact checking the nonsense you have spewed in this blog

    Will be interesting to hear your thoughts if this had happened to you or someone you care about

    I hope you rot in hell !

  38. The men who dragged Dr. Dao off the United Airlines flight, WERE NOT Police Officers. They are airport Security Guards. They were not justified in wearing jackets with wording; POLICE. They were told previously to stop wearing the unauthorized jackets. Once a correction to a story is published, please stop spreading false information.

  39. I keep hearing that the officers used excees force. Looking at the video, I see Dr Dao holding on for dear life and the officers trying to pull him off. He finally lets go and face plants into the armrest. Am I missing something? Were they punching him? United will be fine, this Dr Dao will be fine and get a nice settlement but these guys that were doing their job will prob lose theirs.

  40. The Security Officer’s used excessive force, period. They had no legal authority to touch Dr. Dao, under any circumstance. Had they been trained properly, and known the airline laws/rules/regulations, they would have known they had no justified cause to touch Dr. Dao. The point you may be missing; the airline had no justification to remove Dr. Dao. Airlines must find their “volunteer” give up seat passengers BEFORE the passengers BOARD the airline. This entire debacle is the fault of poor training of airline employees, and the CEO finally publicly admitted same. Stop blaming the victim. How many flying passengers know about the random computer selection of passengers to kick off the plane due to overbooking, or airline employees need for the seats? I fly and have never seen that rule written anywhere. Computer random selection is problematic if selected passenger is flying with family members/groups/whatever. This isn’t a matter of Dr. Dao being inconvenienced for a few hours, there were no flights until the next day. United Airlines lost countless millions of dollars over this unnecessary, and unlawful action. Money doesn’t always solve physical injuries and mental stress.

  41. I’ve been in that minority group that thinks Dr Dao responded in an appropriate manner. I thought I knew that I would not behave that way, but didn’t anticipate that I’d have the chance to see so soon. I had a return flight to Seattle on Friday night and an early flight Saturday to another city. Our flight to Seattle was postponed multiple times and finally departed 6 hours later. We had finally boarded late in the evening and then deboarded an hour or so later. We had a hotel reserved which was not going to get used except for 2 hours if we were lucky. I have seizures and depend on regular sleep to avoid. Our first response was to be upset, angry, and join the others who were all murmuring about what they were hoping to get out of the airline. Everyone is super aware and ready to pounce because of the United incident. I think most of us are egocentric and never think of what it takes to run an airline or something like the US Postal Service. We all need to grow up, have a little grace in difficult circumstances. Comparing this to civil liberties is not relevant. I’ve flown out la airports which had no electricity and tickets had to be handwritten, flight patterns changed to avoid trouble. When you think of what our soldiers go through, I think the least we can do is keep our heads and act like grownups. Saying this was worse than Vietnam is ridiculous. Only because he made it worse. Anyway, he got his settlement and we’re beating a dead horse.

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