As social media pressure mounts, United Airlines CEO apologises for ‘horrific event’

The public revulsion and the pressure on social media over United Airlines latest fiasco has finally resulted in the chief executive tendering an apology for the ‘horrific event’ in which a passenger was dragged from a plane screaming after refusing a last-minute request to give up his seat to make room for a crew member. The plane was going from Chicago to Louisville.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said that incident was truly horrific and the airlines takes “full responsibility” to make things right. The full statement reads as follows

“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.” 

The statement added, “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.”

He has also ordered a review of the airline's policies on giving seats to employees and overbooking and promised a public report by April 30.

A video capturing this incident went viral on social media, showing three men wearing radio equipment and security jackets grabbing a passenger and dragging him by his arms toward the front of the plane. The passenger was initially screaming but then appeared to have lost consciousness when he was dragged out. The 31-second clip was taken from an aisle seat of the plane.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz. Photo courtesy: Facebook

The CEO’s statement has come rather late after worldwide outrage, plummeting airlines stock prices, and two days of conflicting explanations. There has also been worldwide call to boycott the airline.

One of the security officers has been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is under review.

Meanwhile, attorneys for the afflicted passenger, David Dao, said that he remains hospitalised in Chicago, undergoing treatment for his injuries.

Also read: Twitterati explode in anger over United Airlines’ forceful deplaning incident

"The family of Dr Dao wants the world to know that they are very appreciative of the outpouring of prayers, concern and support they have received," Chicago attorney Stephen Golan said in a statement.