United Airlines issues apology over passenger treatment

United Airlines issues apology, promises "thorough review" after online video of a passenger being dragged out of the plane caused an international social media firestorm.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Passengers recorded video of three Chicago airport security officers confronting the man, one officer grabbing him as he screamed and dragging him by his arms down the plane's aisle.

Updated Apr 12, 2017

United Airlines Chief Executive Oscar Munoz issued an apology on Tuesday for the treatment of a passenger who was dragged on Sunday from his seat on a United plane, as the company faced a worldwide backlash for its handling of the incident.

"I'm sorry. We will fix this," Munoz said in a statement a day after he had defended the company in a memo that contained no apologies to the passenger.

On Tuesday, as the storm of criticism continued, Munoz changed course.

"I deeply apologise to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard," he said.

I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.

Videos showing a man who appeared to be Asian being snatched from his seat on Sunday evening and dragged from United Airlines Flight 3411 sparked global outrage that escalated as consumers in China, a key United market, called for boycotts of the airline. 

In his apology, Munoz pledged a "a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivising volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement."

The findings will be released by April 30, he said.

The US Department of Transportation also promised to investigate the incident.

Social media outrage

On Chinese social media, the incident attracted the attention of more than 480 million users on Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform.

In the US, the incident was trending on Twitter for the second consecutive day. Many users promoted hashtags #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos and #BoycottUnitedAirlines.

This is the second time in less than a month that United has been caught in a social media storm. In late March, a United gate agent's decision to refuse to board two teenage girls wearing leggings provoked a viral backlash.  

TRT World spoke to Brett Snyder, who is a blogger on the airline consumer website The Cranky Flier, for more on the story.

TRTWorld and agencies