The Twitterati have exploded in anger and revulsion over the incident in which a 69-year old man was dragged out from a United Airlines plane allegedly to empty a seat for an airline staff member. The airplane was going from Chicago to Louisville. This is the United Airlines’ biggest PR disaster with the hashtag #UnitedJourney making the rounds online.
A video shows 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. The 31-second clip has been taken from an aisle seat of the plane.
Audra D Bridges, who posted the footage on Facebook, wrote, “United Airlines overbooked the flight. They were offering SGD800, but couldn’t get us on a flight until tomorrow at 3 pm. They randomly selected people to kick off so their crew could have a seat.” Her post added that he was a doctor and had to be at the hospital in the morning and as such, he did not want to get off.
“They told him he had been selected randomly to be taken off the flight. He said he wasn’t going to. He was talking to his lawyer on the phone. He was refusing to get off, but this (the violent dragging) was very unnecessary.”
The response of United Airlines came rather late when the damage was already done. A United spokesperson confirmed in an email to several media outlets that a passenger had been taken off a flight in Chicago.
“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. 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 apologise for the overbooking situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities,” said the statement.
United has also put up a Twitter post on the matter.
It can be summarised that United’s once-promising social media campaign and tagline, #UnitedJourney, that was built around the campaign to encourage passengers to share their trip photos, has since become the best spot for trolling.