United Airlines Chief Issues Apology After Video Of Passenger Being Dragged Out Of Overbooked Flight Goes Viral

12 April 2017, 8:15 am EDT By Anu Passary Tech Times
United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz issued an apology regarding the forcible removal of a passenger from one of its overbooked flights. The apology came amidst growing outrage after a video showing the passenger being dragged out went viral.  ( Scott Olson | Getty Images )

In the aftermath of the horrific passenger removal incident that transpired aboard a Louisville-bound United Airlines flight from Chicago, CEO Oscar Munoz finally issued an apology on Tuesday, April 11.

On April 9, the passenger Dr. David Dao was forcibly taken off the United Flight 3411 because it was overbooked. A mobile phone video capturing the incident went viral on the internet. The video showed off a bleeding and screaming Dr. Dao being dragged off the flight by the airline security.

United Airlines had asked passengers to voluntarily exit the flight as it needed to accommodate four crew members. While two people volunteered after being offered incentives, the airline was in a jeopardy as no one else gave up their place.

The airline then randomly zoned in on the unsuspecting victim and his wife, forcing them to leave. However, 69-year-old Dr. Dao, who hails from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, refused to vacate the flight as he had to return home to treat his patients.

United Airlines Issues Apology

Munoz's apology regarding the passenger harassment incident comes two days late and is seen as an attempt to restore the company's image. Initially, Munoz had supported the staff over the brutal removal of Dr. Dao from the flight.

In his first statement, which came on April 10, Munoz apologized to all the passengers for having to re-accommodate them owing to overbooking issues. He also added that the incident was "an upsetting event to all of us here at United."

A second statement from the CEO was released on the same day, but this time was directed to United Airlines staff.

In the second statement, Munoz defended his staff and the company, but did not issue an apology for the aggrieved passenger. He continued to uphold that United Airlines' employees followed established company procedures for handling the situation.

However, amid growing public outrage, Munoz finally relented on April 11 and stated that the company takes full responsibility and expressed deepest sympathy for Dr. Dao and his family.

"Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way," stated Munoz.

He has also promised that a "thorough review" of the policies and situation of United Airlines would be conducted. These results will be made public by April 30.

Attorneys from Dr. Dao's end also issued a public statement noting that his family appreciates the prayers, concerns, and support from all over the world. However, at this juncture, they are focusing on his health and medical treatment and request privacy.

United Airlines' Market Value Drops

Following the incident and the delay in United Airlines' issuance of an apology, stocks of United Continental Holdings Inc., fell 1.13 percent overnight.

Even Munoz's apology did not seem to work its magic on the stock market. The company's share price fell from $73.80 to $70.70.

Senate Committee Unconvinced

The disparity in Munoz's statements has failed to convince the United States Senate Commerce Committee that United Airlines handled the situation properly.

The committee sent a letter to the company, asking it to provide the senate with "a full accounting of this incident," as well as answers to the questions put forth by the committee by April 20.

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