United CEO Apologizes, Orders Review After Passenger Dragged Off Plane At O'Hare
United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized Tuesday for the treatment of passenger dragged off a plane at O'Hare International Airport and has ordered a review of the airline's policies as public outrage continued to build.
"No one should ever be mistreated this way," he said in a statement via Twitter.
Munoz said the airline will conduct a review of United's "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."
Munoz's apology comes after he initially defended his employees, saying they followed proper procedures in dealing with the situation. But the Chicago Department of Aviation suspended the security officer who dragged off the flight a man who refused to voluntarily leave.
The cellphone video of airport police dragging a 69-year-old passenger off an overbooked flight has become a public-relations fiasco for United, with travel and PR experts saying the airline fumbled the situation from the start and made matters worse with a tone-deaf apology from the CEO on Monday. Munoz's first apology drew criticism for characterizing the incident as an effort to "re-accommodate these customers."
United CEO response to United Express Flight 3411. pic.twitter.com/rF5gNIvVd0— United (@united) April 10, 2017
"To use the words ‘re-accomodate a passenger’ after you’ve dragged the man down the aisle is a really interesting choice," said Robert Mark, a former pilot and 35-year veteran in the aviation industry, on WBEZ's Morning Shift.
Witnesses on the plane said United employees asked for volunteers to give up their seats so that four company employees could board the fight headed to Louisville, Kentucky. United had tried to entice volunteers with travel vouchers worth $800 and a hotel room. When there were no takers, a United manager went on board and announced four people would be chosen to be removed.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday said it was "troubling" to watch the cellphone videos of the incident, but he said it was unlikely the federal government will launch a separate investigation. Spicer said he's sure Trump has seen the video but that any comment from the president could influence a potential outcome of the investigations. Spicer added that he thinks everyone who has seen the video can agree that the situation could have been handled better.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.