United Airlines Passenger Removal

United Airlines Passenger Removal

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Updated Jun 29, 2018 at 03:12PM EDT by Sophie.

Added Apr 10, 2017 at 12:32PM EDT by Matt.

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United Airlines Passenger Removal refers to the controversial ejection of a passenger from a United Airlines flight, after the airline informed the plane that they would be randomly selecting ticket-holders to give up their seats.


On April 9th, 2017, a video of police forcing a United Airlines passenger off of flight 3411 went viral on Facebook and Twitter. After boarding the plane at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the airline announced that they had overbooked the flight and requested four ticket-holders give up their seats for four United employees. When no one volunteered, United randomly selected four passengers for removal. One of those passengers, David Dao, a doctor on his way to Kentucky, refused to give up his seat. Police forced him out of his seat and dragged him off the plane.

Twitter user @JayseDavid,[1] a passenger on the flight, posted a video of the removal to Twitter (shown below). In the post, he writes, "@United overbook #flight3411 and decided to force random passengers off the plane. Here's how they did it." The tweet received more than 29,000 retweets and 18,000 likes.

@JayseDavid tweeted about the incident and described the man as being knocked out during the removal.

Jayse D. Anspach@JayseDavid 11h Replying to @WHAS11 It looked like he was knocked out, because he went limp and quiet and they dragged him out of the plane like a rag doll. 2 Jayse D. Anspach @JayseDavid 11h Replying to @WHAS11 In so doing, the doctor's face was slammed against an arm rest, causing serious bleeding from his mouth Jayse D. Anspach@JayseDavid 11h Replying to @WHAS11 A couple air port security men forcefully pulled the doctor out of his chair and to the floor of the aisle Jayse D. Anspach@JayseDavid 11h Replying to @WHAS11 The doctor needed to work at the hospital the next day, so he refused to "volunteer." @United decided to use force on doctor 121 23 Jayse D. Anspach@JayseDavid 11h Replying to @WHAS11 No one volunteered, so @United decided to choose for us They chose an Asian doctor and his wife わ! £7120 15 Jayse D. Anspach@JayseDavid 11h Replying to@WHAS11 #United overbooked and wanted 4 of us to volunteer to give up our seats for personnel that needed to be at work the next day.


Online Reactions

Other passengers aboard the flight recorded the incident. Facebook user Audra D. Bridges[11] posted a video on April 9th (shown below). Within 48 hours, the post received more than 86,000 reactions, 226,800 shares, and 18 million views.

On Twitter, @Tyler_Bridges[12] uploaded another angle of the removal. Within two days, the tweet received more than 22,100 retweets and 17,800 likes.

Within 24 hours, more videos emerged of Dao immediately after the removal. Twitter user @kaylyn_davis[14] uploaded two videos of him standing on the plane and bleeding from the mouth. In the first video, we see the man talking to law enforcement repeatedly saying, "I have to go home." The tweet received more than 13,800 retweets and 11,600 likes in under 24 hours.

The second video @kaylyn_davis[13] posted, shot moments later, features the man repeatedly saying, "Just kill me." Within a day, the tweet has received more than 34,300 retweets and 31,100 likes.

Within hours of the event, the video was number one on the /r/videos subreddit,[10] receiving more than 49,000 points (93% upvoted) and 6,500 comments. Shortly thereafter, users flooded /r/videos with joke posts referencing the incident. However, moderators removed the video from the subreddit, citing rule 4, which states, "4. No Videos of Police Brutality or Harassment."[15] In the subreddit /r/OutOfTheLoop, user MyBanananoseNoBounds posted a thread discussing the controversy.[16]

On April 10th, Twitter published a moment regarding the event, documenting videos and reactions to the incident.[8]

United Airlines' response

On April 10th, United Airlines released a statement to Business Insider.[2] They wrote:

"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. We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities."

Later that day, United CEO Oscar Munoz released a statement on Twitter.[7]

United united United CEO response to United Express Flight 3411 This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation Oscar Munoz, CEO, United Airlines

Shortly after the response went public, jokes regarding the CEO's statement, specifically his use of the word "re-accomodating" and "volunteering" began appearing on Twitter.

The phrase "l apologize for having to re- accommodate these customers" will be studied in bad-PR case study lore for generations. re-accomodate, verb: to bloody a paying passenger and drag his limp body away

On April 10th, Merriam-Webster[1518] Dictionary posted a popular tweet, shown below, that defined the word "volunteer," receiving more than 27,800 retweets and 43,300 likes. Twitter published a Moment, highlighting the response to the tweet.[19]

Merriam-Webster Merriam- Webster@MerriamWebster NVolunteer' means "someone who does something without being forced to do it." i1 Trending: United: 'Our Team Looked For Volunteers Someone who does something without being forced to do it' merriam-webster.com

On April 10th, Twitter published a Moment documenting the response to United's statement.[17]

News Media Reaction

The video and reactions were covered by major press outlets, such as The Washington Post,[3] BuzzFeed,[4] Uproxx,[5] The New York Times,[6], and NPR.[9]

Identity Revealed

On April 11th, The Courier Journal newspaper revealed the name of the passenger as Dr. David Dao of Elizabethtown, KY, as well as his 2004 drug-related offenses.[20]

Within an hour of publication, Twitter users attacked the article for releasing information unrelated to the passenger's removal, specifically regarding Dao's past offenses. Twitter published a moment on the controversy within an hour of the article's publication.[21]

"I thought I recognized you as the guy arrested for unrelated offenses over a decade ago in another state. Clobbering time!"

Other media outlets covered the privacy controversy, including The Daily Dot[22] and Fusion[23]

Search Interest

External References

[1] Twitter – @JayseDavid's Tweet

[2] Business Insider – United responds after shocking video shows doctor being dragged from plane

[3] The Washington Post – A man wouldn’t leave an overbooked United flight. So he was dragged off, battered and limp.

[4] BuzzFeed – A Man Was Dragged Off A United Plane After The Airline Overbooked The Flight

[5] United Airlines Forcibly Removed A Doctor From An Overbooked Flight, And It Was Caught On Video

[6] The New York Times – Man Dragged From Overbooked United Flight, Passengers Say

[7] Twitter – @United's Tweet

[8] Twitter – Moment

[9] NPR – Passenger Forcibly Removed From United Flight, Prompting Outcry

[10] Reddit – Man returns to airplane bloodied and confused after being beaten and removed from overbooked United Flight

[11] Facebook – Audra D. Bridges' Video

[12] Twitter – @Tyler_Bridges' Tweet

[13] Twitter – @kaylyn_davis' Tweet

[14] Twitter – @kaylyn_davis' Tweet

[15] Reddit – /r/Subreddit Rules

[16] Reddit – United airlines and r/videos?

[17] Twitter – When United 're-accommodates' you

[18] Twitter – @MerriamWebster's Tweet

[19] Twitter – Merriam-Webster clarifies the meaning of 'volunteer'

[20] Courier Journal – David Dao, passenger removed from United flight, a doctor with troubled past

[21] Does the United passenger's background matter?

[22] The Daily Dot – Man argues that the worst injustice about the United fiasco is filming without consent

[23] Fusion – Newspaper Decides It's About Time We Started Demonizing the United Airlines Assault Victim

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Top Comments

Ryumaru Borike
Ryumaru Borike

I've been watching this on Twitter and a lot of people are furious and I am seeing some #boycotts being thrown around, as well as accusations of racism (go figure).

To me, this is just disgusting. United was the one that fucked up the booking, and they wanted to remove paying customers so they can seat their own employees, then they beat up a doctor who needed to head home to his patients (which is pretty up their on the "I cannot miss this flight" scale) then try to cover it up with a cookie cutter apology that doesn't even address the real reason people are upset.

Also, not really related, but lurking on Twitter I have found out they apparently they kicked a woman off another flight last week over leggings. This, plus any time I hear about United, it's always in a very bad light, like them giving Matt and Liam from SBFP a 13 hour layover when their were free seats, and them just losing Pats luggage, it amazes me that people still fly with them at all. But I guess if you need to be somewhere and they are the only flight available, you just have to, which is probably the only reason they are still afloat.

Here's to hoping the doctor sues their fucking asses off.

I am AHO Right?
I am AHO Right?

in reply to Ryumaru Borike

Yeah, that's the problem with things like flight companies, they form natural monopolies. Since it takes so much money and resources, not to mention legal and logistical headaches, to start up one, the ones already in the game are very hard to oust, usually ending up merging with another. Similar to internet providers and television networks; until the technology makes it easy, it's hard to break into the field and create competition. This is where government would normally step in and regulate, but…


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