'Disgusted' United Passengers Walked Off Plane After Man Was Dragged Through Aisle
Dozens of United Airline passengers walked off the plane after a man was violently dragged from the overbooked flight
Before footage of a man being violently dragged from a United Airlines flight drew the ire of the Twittersphere, it was the other passengers on the plane who blasted the airline for the incident.
Facebook footage showed a screaming man being pulled from his seat on an overbooked, Louisville-bound flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Sunday. He was asked to give up his seat so one of four United employees could board the flight, the Associated Press reports.
When the employees boarded the flight, the remaining passengers “were letting them have it,” Tyler Bridges said.
“They were saying you should be ashamed to work for this company.”
United spokesman Charlie Hobart confirmed the incident to PEOPLE, saying that the flight was overbooked and officials asked volunteers to give up their seats.
“When we didn’t get the number of volunteers we needed then we had to follow Department of Transportation procedures and ask that customers, four of them, exit the aircraft,” he said.
“One customer refused to do that after we had explained the situation and apologized and let that customer know what we were gonna do on his behalf to get that customer to where he needed to be. He still refused, at which point we had to involve the Chicago Police Department.”
Footage of the incident showed the man being thrown against an armrest by security and dragged as one woman screamed, “Oh my God! Look at what you did to him.”
Audra Bridges, who shot the footage, told the Courier-Journal that the passenger seemed disoriented when he returned and had a bloody face. She said a medical crew came on the plane to treat the man.
“They randomly selected people to kick off so their standby crew could have a seat,” Audra wrote alongside the video. “This man is a doctor and has to be at the hospital in the morning. He did not want to get off. We are all shaky and so disgusted.”
The man was reportedly chosen at random to give up his seat. He was injured so badly he had to receive medical attention, Bridges said. The entire ordeal delayed the flight for at least two hours.
“We almost felt like we were being taken hostage,” Bridges said. “We were stuck here. You can’t do anything as a traveler. You’re relying on the airline.”
Bridges told the AP that the passengers were so angry as a result of the incident that half of them left the aircraft.
The man was able to get back on the plane after initially being taken off. In footage posted on Twitter after the incident, the man is seen standing on the plane acting extremely distressed and disoriented. He repeatedly says “just kill me” as blood drips from his mouth. A man off camera then tells him to “relax.”
All passengers were eventually asked to get off the plane as a medical crew came on to deal with the passenger. Bridges said the passengers were told to go back to the gate so that officials could “tidy up” the plane before taking off.
According to TIME, one of the officers involved in the incident was placed on leave Monday.
“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,” a spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Aviation told TIME. “That officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation.”
It is common for airlines to encourage people to give up their seats in the event of an overbooked flight, according to the AP. In fact, United forced 3,765 people off of oversold flights in 2016.
In this instance, passengers were offered $400 and a hotel stay to give up their seats to the United employees heading to Louisville for a flight, Audra, told the Courier-Journal. When no one volunteered, the offer was increased to $800.