Back in April, United Airlines had one of the worst negative publicity moments an airline could have — forcefully removing a bloodied passenger from the plane after it was overbooked. Dr. David Dao was dragged down the aisle by officers because he refused to give up the seat he had purchased. With blood dripping from his mouth and horrified passengers filming the entire fiasco, people understandably began boycotting the airline. Now, six months later, the deputies who forcefully removed Dao have been fired.
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Chicago aviation officials announced the firing of the two deputies involved, who had been suspended since the incident. The officials acknowledged their employees “mishandled a non-threatening situation that resulted in a physically violent forcible removal of a passenger.”
According to CNN, it was discovered that the officers involved withheld key facts of what had transpired and gave “misleading statements” and “deliberately removed material facts from their reports.” A third unnamed officer involved in the removal of Dao resigned.
The cell phone footage of Dao being dragged off the plane was seen around the world. Dao sued the airline after he was left bloody, bruised, and humiliated. He received an undisclosed amount of money from an out-of-court settlement agreement with the airline.
United Airlines was criticized by fellow travelers for what many considered brutality. Many chose to speak with their wallets as a boycott of United took place shortly after. The Chicago Tribune reported the CEO of United, Oscar Munoz, would not be approved as the CEO for the airline in 2018 until a board review of his handling of the situation.
For many, the question became is it legal for airlines to overbook flights and then demand passengers give up their paid seats? Congress eventually got involved, forcing airlines to re-examine their practice of overbooking flights. In turn, United Airlines has since changed their policy on removing passengers from an overbooked flight. Once a passenger is onboard the plane, they cannot be removed due to overbooking.
According to the Washington Post, airliner have also now collectively agreed to give larger benefits as an incentive for a passenger to give up their seat on an overbooked flight.