United Airlines CEO blames unconscious bloody passenger for police assault on flight

In a horrifying story that’s taken over Twitter this morning, United Airlines last night had the Chicago police violently remove a passenger from a flight because United wanted his seat for some United employees.

And tonight, United CEO Oscar Munoz repeatedly blamed the passenger and praised his staff’s behavior. (See below.)

Please add your name to the petition calling on United to fix this now, and ensure that no passenger will ever be assaulted again on a United flight.

The man, reportedly a doctor returning to a hospital where he had to see a patient the next day, had paid for his ticket and was sitting in the right seat. United simply decided at the last minute that they wanted the man’s seat instead.

Unconscious United passenger, after Chicago police threw him into a headrest, being dragged out of the plane.

Understandably, the man was ticked. So United called the Chicago police, who violently dragged the man out of the plane. At one point, the cops dropped him, he hit his head on an arm rest, and what happened next shocked everyone. The cops dragged the man’s limp body from the airplane.

But it gets worse. The man, with blood streaming down his face, got back on the plane and seemed incoherent and in shock. There are videos galore.

UPDATE: United CEO Oscar Munoz is now blaming the passenger for the assault. In a letter to employees, Munoz praised his employees’ behavior and repeatedly blamed the passenger.

Please add your name to those calling on United to fix this and ensure it never happens again.

As a bit more background, United wanted four seats for its crew who needed to be at the destination city. The airline offered $400 per person for volunteers to give up their seats. Then $800. No one bit. So United had the computer pick four passengers at random, this man was one of them. When he said “no,” the police arrived and violently dragged the man off the flight.

The cops now claim the man “fell” while they were forcibly removing him. You can hear the cop after the man fell — he thought the guy was faking being unconscious, didn’t even bother checking.

Here’s the video of the man, bloody, and clearly in shock:

Here’s the Chicago police statement, it’s pretty awful:

chicago police statement

United’s statement is just as bad:

“I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened,” United CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement Monday. Munoz said the airline is trying to reach the passenger to “further address and resolve this situation.”

Re-accomodate. Nice.

Adding to their PR problem, United is refusing to comment on the incident, and referring questions to the Chicago police, as if this were a police matter. It’s really not. It’s about United Airlines assaulting one of their customers without cause.

Please add your name to those expressing their outrage to United Airlines, and calling on United to make this right with that poor man, and to change its policies to ensure this never happens again.

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  • George Blair

    Care to revisit your statement Skyler Trask?

  • George Blair

    Right. So then it wasn’t flight crews giving him instructions it was TSA. That renders your first statement irrelevant. Next we get into whether or not the TSA can remove a paying customer from a plane. (The issue of the TSA is another subject). TSA does not work for United, they are taxpayer funded.

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  • Disgusted

    They should have figured all that out BEFORE allowing any passenger to BOARD the plane!!!!!!

  • Skyler Trask

    Look up aviation laws about it. Any passenger can be bumped if needed, and those employees were likely on a “must fly” order which is also a federal regulation. Employees not flying on a “must fly” have to hope a seat is available, that don’t get to bump customers.

  • Skyler Trask

    I bet you’re wrong. I fly almost weekly. The flight attendants tell you during the briefing that failing to follow the flight crews instructions is a federal offense. You agreed to be bumped if needed. It’s in the fine print. Those were TSA agents dragging him out noto United employees.

  • George Blair

    I’m no prognosticator, but if I were, I’d bet United is going to “settle” an out of court decision with this man. For a LOT of money.

  • Jramza

    This just sickens me. It’s sickening. I’m a doctor. I flew back to Ohare yesterday on United. Had I seen something like this, I would have felt obligated to lend assistance to a man with an obvious concussion – thereby putting myself in harm (?). I’m done with United. This is just sickening.
    As a side note – until a few years ago, by Illinois law, every passenger who filmed this would have been guilty of a felony for photographing a police officer. Think about that.

  • Rocky Balboa

    I am sure you have different set of morals when the sun goes down! You are disgusting excuse for a human being!!

  • craigcw

    No, Ralph “Fast n’ Furious” Holder. Then, Susan Rice blamed the incident on a video.

  • Mary Giddens

    Yeah.. he encouraged the cry babies to riot and destroy property. He was probably right there telling united what to do too. I’ll bet he even wrote the pathetic, ” we were in the right, I’m proud of my staff” letter and gave it to Munoz too. Seriously.. this is what’s wrong with America. Ignorance and complacency. We fight for shit that doesn’t matter and sit back and watch the show when moral injustices and common sense maltreatment takes place. I hope the same happens to you someday.. maybe then you’ll learn empathy and decency. .

  • No. those ticket vouchers are worthless. Most are never used because there are so many restrictions and blackout dates so that unless you can rearrange your life to fly when they will let you use the voucher the are completely useless. Travelers have learned this and so those vouchers are no incentive at all any more. I would want cash and I mean literal cash, not a check because airlines are prone to bankruptcy.

  • Moral of the story: It’s 2017 and everyone can take video with their phones and post it online. Always behave professional as if everyone is watching because if you misbehave chances are thousands, and in this case millions, will see what you did.

  • Chief Ola

    Stupid

  • Disgusted

    If a cop stops me because someone else wants to drive my car, I’m throwing a tantrum!!!! Did you read the story? He was a paying customer, who was boarded by the ticketing agent(s), sitting in the proper seat, then told to leave so a United employee could ride in his seat! Appalling. Sew later?

  • Marjorie Welch Eley

    Because they are complicit by calling them instead of going the PR route. Now it doesn’t matter if they had the right to evict the passenger, since all people will see is a man of a different culture being brutalized and knocked unconscious.

  • Joleen Smitshoek

    This passenger was asked several times to vacate the aircraft.
    Policy allows the airline to offload passengers.
    if a cop stops you on the road and you throw a tantrum you should not be surprised when cop uses force.
    Just comply and sew later.

  • Demosthenes

    So United blamed an unconscious passenger? Is the United CEO named Gorsuch?

  • UncleBucky

    RESIGN, MUNOZ!

  • Jacqueline Perry

    UNITED’s new slogan, ” We will RE-ACCOMMODATE you, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY”

  • Weit Sittichai

    Ok. If that is the case, Tom. First of all Thank for your reply. The point is surely there must be a miscommunication between United ground staff. They should have known in advance that they had to reserve four seats before ‘Fully’ boarding the passengers on the plane. How did they allow that to happen? Why didn’t they refuse the, whoever, four people before boarding? I fly a lot but we have never experienced this kind of ‘managing’ the passenger in Europe. So if we went back to the beginning stage, before boarding, of all the incident, it was the fault of the man or was it the fault of the airline? I can understand that the US law allow the airline to do the ‘overbooked’ situation, but it is mentioned in the condition that the passenger can be ‘denied boarding’ if there is an overbooked. The word ‘denied boarding’ means s/he should have been informed before the boarding. Literally, the cabin crews didn’t beat the passenger up, but did they stop the (vilolent) officer who carried the ‘law enforcement’? No, they didn’t? Where is the act of ‘humanity’ there? In addition to that they are investigating that how many Asian passengers were on the plane. The fact that (if this piece of information was accurate), 3 out of the passengers who got chosen were Asian. I don’t want to blame or accusing the airline of ‘racist’ yet. As I don’t normally play this card when seeing how (some) white American treat others, but I am just wondering…

  • GreenTom

    Hi Walt,

    I agree that United should not have gotten into this situation–they should have resolved overbooking before pax boarded, and they should have been able to sell the $800 voluntary incentive. (I think “boarding” in aviation is used to cover the entire period the door is open, not just until you get your butt in a seat)

    That said, once they’re in this situation, giving the crew priority does seem right to me–they’re inconveniencing four people for the sake of hundreds. Once the crew has to remove a passenger, it’s not optional, and calling the police is ultimately the only response to a passenger who refuses to leave.

    Airline crew are civilians, and they’re no better situated to intervene in a police brutality incident than any one else. As far as the risk that somebody might die because this doctor got bumped (1) that’s silly (2) even if it was true, then he shouldn’t have been on the flight–air travel is never certain and it would be foolish to bet somebody’s life on making a flight.

  • Rolf Eilert Johansen

    Nazi Airlines, You are banned until your fat butted ceo removes himself from the post, not because of the incident, but you diverted responsibility to a doctor supposedly bad behaviour to save your own skin

  • Simi

    Kick off paying customers for employees, assault them when they protest, it was bad enough when United was kicking people off planes because they didnt like their pants…

  • Weit Sittichai

    Simple, because United didn’t do what it was supposed to do. 1) If you want to ‘kick out’ the passenger, the airline has the right to do it ‘prior to boarding’ which is stated in the ‘condition’ that is called ‘denied boarding’. This gentleman was already boarded and sat in the plane. Hence, it was totally United’s fault. 2) United didn’t interfere or didn’t tried to stop the abusive ‘law enforcement’. 3) Surely, there will be a better way. United should have increased the ‘incentive’ to find other passengers who might be willing to accept the offer. It is United’s fault from the beginning, as it allowed the ‘overbooked’ to happen. 4) Why can’t United crews went on the other flight. Why did they have to kick out this man instead of ask their own staff to wait for the next flight. What if this man could not go to the hospital on time and his patients were in critical conditions. What if this man died, because United didn’t interrupt the physical assaults?

  • Weit Sittichai

    Simple, because United didn’t do what it was supposed to do. 1) If you want to ‘kick out’ the passenger, the airline has the right to do it ‘prior to boarding’ which is stated in the ‘condition’ that is called ‘denied boarding’. This gentleman was already boarded and sat in the plane. Hence, it was totally United’s fault. 2) United didn’t interfere or didn’t tried to stop the abusive ‘law enforcement’. 3) Surely, there will be a better way. United should have increased the ‘incentive’ to find other passengers who might be willing to accept the offer. It is United’s fault from the beginning, as it allowed the ‘overbooked’ to happen. 4) Why can’t United crews went on the other flight. Why did they have to kick out this man instead of ask their own staff to wait for the next flight. What if this man could not go to the hospital on time and his patients were in critical conditions. What if this man died, because United didn’t interrupt the physical assaults? Anything else you need people to think for you…

  • GreenTom

    Why is United getting blamed for Chicago police brutality?

  • goulo

    They should have offered more money. The procedure is to keep raising the offer until someone takes it. They stopped raising the offer before they should have stopped; eventually some people would have been happy to take it. Far better for everyone than causing a bad scene like this.

  • Peter & Carolyn Sinclair

    Yes, what if a Chinese airline bashed an Anglo American in Beijing?

  • Wu-Tang11

    Moral of the story: Bow down to authority and never be mad when you pay for a ticket and the airline physically removes you while bloodying you up. Damn David you’re like the modern Socrates……..jk you’re an idiot

  • What they should’ve said: “We apologize and deeply regret how this was handled and have launched an investigation into the decision-making that prompted our gate agents and supervisors to involuntarily deplane properly onboarded passengers against their will, even before incentives to volunteer hadn’t been fully explored. This tells us our training needs work. We have also reached out not only to the passenger in question to make this right, we will also be issuing compensation to everyone on that flight who witnessed United Airlines at our worst. ‘This plane isn’t leaving until four passengers leave’ is something you should never hear from us again. Especially seeing as how the flight was merely full, not overbooked as some reports suggested, and it was a United employee who decided to be unacceptably overzealous in trying to secure seats for four other United employees on that flight.”

    Just this. An admission it was wrong to remove passengers that way, and a promise to make it right and to do better in the future. Whether it was legal or not to randomly remove passengers isn’t the point. (BTW, involuntary bumping is supposed to result in a $1350 CASH payment, not some cheap-ass reschedule and travel voucher.)

    That all said, the Asian doctor in question did not sound like English was his 1st language. This means he might well be an immigrant. Now imagine the terror of being on a flight and suddenly being removed from it by armed guards…in Trump’s America. Who wouldn’t wonder if they were about to be imprisoned and deported, if a recent immigrant or green-card holder?

  • Jacqueline Perry

    They did offer money, but no one wanted to give up their seat, so names were picked randomly.

  • rick

    69 years old senior Really!! 3 Asians were pick randomly really!! That’s original.

  • David Christie

    Moral of the story: When the flight crew and the cops tell you you’re getting off the plane – believe them.

  • brel1

    Had they just provided incentive like free round trip ticket etc. they would have had plenty of volunteers. What the hay were they thinking? And then just pulled people off randomly without offering another flight. True dick heads. What is happening to this country? Wait — I think I know — his initials are DT, the Dick Twitter guy. He’s causing insanity in the whole country.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    They keep saying the flight was overbooked. It wasn’t. The problem is that United decided to put four of their employees on a flight that was full.

  • ComradeRutherford

    A 69 year old man? I wonder if United will survive the lawsuit?

  • Just keep upping the price. Eventually the price will be right for a true volunteer.

  • UncleBucky

    RANDOM SELECTION?????? RANDOM? FONKING RANDOM?

    There was only one or a very few Asians on that flight I betcha, and he explained his requirements.

    RACISM, dammit.

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