When no passengers volunteered to disembark from a United Airlines flight, which had been overbooked, the airlines used force to remove a selected passenger.
Video of the incident, which occurred Sunday evening on a flight from Chicago O’Hare to Lousiville Kentucky has been circulated tens of thousands of times on Twitter and other social media sites. The video, taken by an onlooking passenger, shows security officers in plain clothes, lunging and pulling a man from his seat and dragging him down the aisle to the protests of other passengers, the passenger’s shirt riding up his midriff.
Passengers aboard the flight identified the man as a doctor and said he refused to leave his seat because he had to work the next day.
In a response to the New York Times, a United Airlines spokesman said, “We had asked several times, politely” for the man to relinquish his seat before force was used.”
“We had a customer who refused to leave the aircraft,” he said. “We have a number of customers on board that aircraft, and they want to get to their destination on time and safely, and we want to work to get them there.
“Since that customer refused to leave the aircraft, we had to call the Chicago Police Department, and they came on board.”
United’s CEO tweeted this statement about the incident.
The New York Times reports that the passenger shown in the video and his wife, were not the only ones asked to leave the plane. Three of the four passengers asked to leave, left without incident, a United Airlines spokesmen said.
The BBC reports that the passengers were asked to leave to accommodate United Airlines staff who were waiting to fly standby, and needed to be at work the next day.