CHICAGO: Video of police officers dragging a passenger from an overbooked United Airlines flight has sparked uproar on social media.
As the flight waited to depart, officers could be seen grabbing the screaming man from a window seat, pulling him across the armrest and dragging him down the aisle by his arms. United was trying to make room for four employees of a partner airline on the Sunday evening flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky.
In a video, the man can be seen standing in the aisle near what appears to be the rear of the aircraft. Blood is on his mouth, chin and cheek as he said: “I want to go home.”
Other passengers on Flight 3411 are heard saying, “Please, my God,” “What are you doing?” “This is wrong,” “Look at what you did to him” and “Busted his lip”.
Passenger Audra Bridges posted the video on Facebook, and it has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, and triggered strong criticism of United. Her husband, Tyler Bridges, said United offered 400 dollar (£322) and then 800 dollar vouchers and a hotel stay for volunteers to give up their seats. When no-one volunteered, a United manager came on the plane and announced that passengers would be chosen at random.
“We almost felt like we were being taken hostage,” Tyler Bridges said. “We were stuck there. You can’t do anything as a traveller. You’re relying on the airline.”
When airline employees named four customers who had to leave the plane, three of them did so. The fourth person refused to move, and police were called. The man who was originally dragged down the aisle was removed from the plane again, and United employees made an announcement saying they had to “tidy up” the aircraft, Mr Bridges said. His wife told him she saw the man taken away on a stretcher, he said. After a three-hour delay the flight took off without the man aboard, Mr Bridges said.