BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After a passenger is dragged off one of its planes, United Airlines finds itself in a storm of criticism.
The incident sparked nationwide outrage, and now lawmakers, including those in Maryland, are chiming in.
Just weeks ago, two teenage girls were denied boarding on a United flight because their pants violated an employee and family member dress code for those using free passes.
It’s a different tone from United CEO Oscar Munoz. He’s now calling this incident “horrific” and says they take full responsibility.
But this only comes after he released a controversial statement Monday, and since others have threatened to boycott the airline.
The video is beyond disturbing. A passenger being physically dragged off a United flight.
That’s now jolted the airline into a social media firestorm.
The flight was set to take off from Chicago on Sunday, but was oversold.
The man capture on video being dragged off the plane was one of four passengers chosen at random to be bumped off.
Video shows the man’s limp body being dragged down the aisle by aviation officers, and then making it back on the cabin, still bleeding from the wrangle.
Chicago Department of Aviation says one of its officers did not follow protocol and has been placed on leave pending an investigation.
Both travelers and passengers right groups are pointing the finger at United, saying there’s no excuse.
“I was appalled. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said Kenneth Reis.
“There’s at least a half dozen ways this could’ve been and should of been avoided,” said Paul Hudson, president of flyersrights.org. “It’s incomprehensible.”
On Monday, United’s CEO said he was sorry for what happened, but his employees followed the established procedures. Lawmakers are now calling for an investigation.
Munoz said they sought volunteers and tried offering up $1,000 in compensation, but the passenger refused to comply when he was randomly selected.
On Tuesday, he released a new statement saying:
The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.
I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.
It’s never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We’ll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.
I promise you we will do better.
Senator Chris Van Hollen tweeted, “#United must do more than “apologize”. Full investigation needed. Airlines must start treating passengers with respect, not like cargo.”
“It should’ve never happened,” said Michael VanRooyen. “That encounter should never be the case. I know airlines and employees are met with a lot of pressure, but it shouldn’t of resulted in this.”
“It shows a lack of care on the airlines part, that they didn’t manage their affairs well enough. It’s egregious,” said Douglas Kidd, with the National Association for Airline Passengers.
Kidd says that while what United Airlines did is certainly legal, it shouldn’t have even got to that point.
He says more compensation should’ve been offered, and it all should’ve been handled before the plane was boarded.
Congressman Elijah Cummings released a quote on Tuesday, calling on the Transportation Committee to hold a hearing and get to the bottom of what happened on this flight.
The U.S. Department of Transportation says its reviewing whether United complied with overbook rules.