United Airlines is apologizing for overbooking a flight from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday night after a video posted on social media showed a passenger being pulled forcibly from his seat and dragged off the plane.
A passenger who posted a video of the incident on Facebook told The Courier-Journal that they were informed at the gate that the flight was overbooked, and United was offering $400 a hotel stay to volunteers who were willing to take a flight on Monday at 3 p.m.
Once the plane was full, the passengers were told that four people had to give their seats to stand-by United employees, and United upped the offer to $800. The flight wouldn’t take off until the crew had seats, airline staff said, but no one took the offer.
A manager then came onboard and said the computer would randomly select four people that would have to give up their seats, the passenger told the Courier-Journal. A couple was selected and left the airplane, and then the man in the video was confronted.
The passenger who posted to Facebook said the man was upset, because he’s a doctor who needed to see patients the next morning. He was told security would be called if he didn’t leave on his own accord and the man said he would call his lawyer.
Security officials approached him, and ultimately three of them worked together to pull him from his seat and drag him from the plane, she said.
A fellow passenger sitting across the aisle from the man who was removed wrote that United “decided to force random passengers off the plane,” and posted a video of the incident:
The other passenger filmed from closer to the front of the plane, looking back on the incident, and posted it on Facebook:
In the videos, a police officer or other security personnel is in the aisle near the passenger’s seat. He suddenly screams as the other man dives toward him, and eventually he’s pulled out into the aisle, his glasses askew on his face while other passengers yell things like, “Oh my God!” and “No, this is wrong… look at what you did to him!”
He was allowed to get back on the plane, one passenger told the Courier-Journal, though he seemed disoriented and his face was bloody. Passengers were asked to leave the plane while a medical crew assisted the man, and they were then instructed to head back to the gate so officials could “tidy up” the plane.
“Everyone was shocked and appalled,” the passenger told the Courier-Journal. “There were several children on the flight as well that were very upset.”
The flight was delayed two hours. United issued a statement apologizing for overbooking the flight and confirmed that a passenger had been removed from the plane.
“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked,” a spokesperson said. “After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.”