Video circulating on Twitter shows the moment a man was forcibly dragged off a United Airlines flight Sunday night. According to the passenger who posted the video and statements from United, the flight was overbooked, and several passengers were randomly bumped off the flight.
One of the unlucky few claimed to be a doctor who had to be at work the next day, so he refused to get out of his seat and leave the aircraft. As you can see in the video, police and airport employees forcibly drag him out of his seat and down the aisle, leaving him bloodied and dazed in the process.
Passenger Jayse Anspach tweeted video of the incident, which happened on United flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville. United has not commented widely on the incident, but did say in a tweet that the flight was overbooked, and “one customer refused to leave.”
It’s possible that there is context missed by the video that would go some way to explaining the incident. Otherwise, United is going to have a serious PR problem on its hands.
In a series of further tweets, Anspach detailed his account of what happened:
The incident comes barely a week after United made more bad headlines for its treatment of passengers, after it banned several teenagers in leggings from a flight, citing a dress code. In that incident, initial social media outrage was muted a little, after it was revealed the passengers were travelling using free passes for family members of employees, and as such were subject to different dress standards.
But in that incident, United’s initial knee-jerk reaction on Twitter — simply citing sections of United’s terms of service without explaining the context — caused a bigger storm than if it had just stayed silent. If the same thing happens again, the airline will probably want to rethink tweeting altogether.