Officer who dragged passenger off United flight placed on leave

The security officer who violently dragged a passenger off a United Airlines flight Sunday evening has reportedly been placed on leave, pending an investigation.

"The incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department,” the Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement on Monday, according to NBC News. "That officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation."

United CEO Oscar Munoz said in a Monday statement that the airline is conducting its own detailed review of the “upsetting event” and is reaching out directly to the passenger who was forcibly removed from an overbooked flight from Chicago to Louisville.

"I apologize for having to re-accommodate these passengers," Munoz said.

ADVERTISEMENT
The incident sparked widespread public outrage, after video circulated on Twitter of security officers forcibly removing a man from his seat. One officer can be seen dragging the distressed passenger by his wrists down the aisle as other upset customers yell out in protest.

One passenger said on Twitter that the flight was four-people overbooked, with those seats needed for airline personnel. But when no one volunteered to leave, customers were randomly selected to give up their seats.

The man who was dragged off the plane apparently refused to leave, saying he was a doctor who needed to reach his destination to treat patients. Authorities were then brought on board to assist with his removal.

“After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate,” a United spokesperson said earlier Monday. "We apologize for the overbook situation.”

The practice of overbooking and bumping passengers is not uncommon or illegal.

The Department of Transportation says most airlines overbook their scheduled flights “to a certain extent” in order to compensate for no-shows. When that occurs, airlines are required to first offer volunteers compensation in exchange for their seats before bumping someone involuntarily.

Anyone bumped against their will may be entitled to compensation, the agency says, and must be given a written statement detailing their rights and explaining how the airline decides who gets on an overbooked flight and who doesn't.

It’s unclear whether passengers on the United flight were first offered compensation and how customers were selected to be bumped off the flight. The airline did not return a request for comment.