CHICAGO: United Airlines found itself in the middle of a social media storm on Monday, after the US carrier forcefully removed a passenger from a flight due to overbooking.
The incident occurred on Sunday on a United Express flight bound for Louisville, Kentucky, from Chicago. United Express flights are operated by one of eight regional airlines which partner with United.
The airline said it had asked for volunteers to give up their seats on the flight, and police were called after one passenger refused to leave the plane. Smartphone video posted online showed three Chicago Department of Aviation police officers struggling with a seated middle-aged man.
The man started to scream as he is dragged off while other passengers looked on — some recording the event with their phones.
One passenger can be heard yelling, “Oh my God, look at what you did to him!” The incident ignited social media outrage, with “United” a trending term on Twitter, Facebook and Google.
It was another example of bad press and negative social media coverage for United, after an incident in late March when two teenage girls were denied boarding a flight in Denver because they wore leggings.
The airline defended its action, saying the girls were flying on passes that require them to abide by a dress code in return for free or discounted travel. In Sunday’s incident, United told US media that it had asked for volunteers to leave the overbooked plane.
“One customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate,” United spokesman Charlie Hobart was quoted by the Chicago Tribune newspaper as saying.-AFP