United Airlines apologizes for "re-accommodating" a customer by literally dragging him off an overbooked plane

[UPDATED] Here's an example of customer service at its worst and a terrible PR response

By Matthew Rozsa
April 10, 2017 5:40PM (UTC)
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(AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

This story has been updated to provide a statement from United Airlines.

United Airlines is dealing with a major public relations nightmare on Monday, after a passenger was literally dragged off an overbooked a flight from Chicago to St. Louis on Sunday.

After asking four passengers to volunteer to give up their seats and being dismayed that not enough were willing to do so, the airline's employees decided to forcibly eject at least one passenger from the flight. When the man refused to give up his seat because he had to go to work the next day, the employees physically dragged him down the aisle and forced him off of the plane. One passenger said afterward that "kids were crying and people are disturbed."


When asked by a local ABC affiliate about the incident, United Airlines responded, "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."

While the airline seemed unremorseful for having used law enforcement to violate the civil liberties of one of its customers, it did provide a glib apology "for the overbook situation."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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