United Passenger Fiasco Sparks Security Review At Chicago Airports | WBEZ
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United Passenger Fiasco Sparks Security Review At Chicago Airports

The Chicago Department of Aviation will review some of its security protocols after airport officers dragged a man off a United airplane, an incident that left the passenger with a broken nose, missing teeth and a concussion.

Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans disclosed the department’s next steps during a public hearing Thursday before the City Council’s Aviation Committee that included testimony from city officials and representatives for United Airlines. The impromptu hearing was called by aldermen after cellphone videos of the incident made national headlines and lead to widespread criticism of United.

Dr. David Dao was dragged off a United flight at O’Hare International Airport on Sunday after he refused to give up his seat to a United employee. Three airports officers have been placed on paid leave, according to an Aviation Department spokeswoman.

Evans said the department hired an international expert months ago to evaluate airport security, but since the incident, the department is reviewing its training programs and security procedures. The commissioner said the department will also cooperate with any additional investigations and has notified the city’s inspector general. 

But this wasn’t enough for powerful Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward), who arrived at the hearing Thursday with prepared questions that he nearly yelled at United and Aviation Department officials. Burke questioned how much money the incident could cost Chicago taxpayers.

An attorney for Dao said Thursday that his client is out of the hospital but will require reconstructive surgery. The attorney, Thomas Demetrio, said a lawsuit is likely. 

Both city officials and representatives from United told aldermen Thursday their remarks would be limited due to potential litigation. But they all apologized for how the situation was handled. 

Margaret Houlihan Smith, managing director of government affairs for United, told aldermen that the airline is also conducting its own review and will publicly release its findings by the end of the month.

John Slater, vice president of United in Chicago, said the airline “failed” to properly handled the situation on Sunday, which should have taken place at the gate instead of on the airplane. 

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