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United overbooked a flight so they dragged a passenger off the plane

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 8.39.42 AM

If you think you’re having a bad Monday, at least you don’t work for United Airlines. Videos from an incident on a United flight from Chicago to Louisville are going viral this morning, and for all the wrong reasons. United overbooked the flight and after no one volunteered to leave the plane and take a later flight, police were called in to forcibly drag a man from his seat and off the plane:

According to the Courier-Journal, United needed four seats for their own employees, and offered passengers $400 and a hotel stay to give up their seats and take a flight the next day. When no one volunteered, they randomly chose four seats via a computer, and after one couple was chosen and left the plane, a manager approached the man in the video above. The man refused to give up his seat, telling the manager that he’s a doctor that needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning. After he said he was going to call his lawyer, security approached him and eventually, dragged him off the plane.

Absolutely awful.


UPDATE: Here’s a video of the passenger running back on the plane after being removed. As you can see, his face is cut and he’s bleeding:

Bridges, who took this video and one of the ones above, actually called into the show to give his account of the incident. After the man ran onto the plane, passengers were asked to get off so the crew could “tidy up.” According to Bridges, the man eventually left the airport on a stretcher.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

58 Comments for United overbooked a flight so they dragged a passenger off the plane

  1. Sentient Third Eye
    10:07 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    So United basically considers passengers to be livestock. Why didn’t they go all-out and use actual cattle prods?

    The correct thing to do would be to keep upping the cash until someone accepts. And then fire whomever overbooked the flight in the first place.

    • Realme
      10:14 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      Yep. Will cost way more in PR nightmare management than just doing what you said would have.

    • RealCatsFan
      10:25 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      SNL will have a field day with this one!

    • Mathlete
      10:47 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      Or……. just borrow/buy a few seats for their employees from another airline going to the same city later? Still cheaper than what this is going to cost them in bad press plus the lawsuits from the guy they literally dragged out of his seat

  2. runningunnin.454
    10:09 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    “Fly the friendly skies….”

    • ClutchCargo
      10:29 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      They may be friendly in the skies, but they are apparently pricks until they leave the gate! lol!

  3. glasgowbooster
    10:10 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    Welcome to the police state America.

    • ClutchCargo
      10:31 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      Why does every incident have to be an indictment of America? This is a United Airlines problem.

    • Mathlete
      10:45 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      ClutchCargo is right – the US Marshals might have gotten involved when the guy snuck back onto the plane, but this was a United Airlines problem from the get-go

    • bluecrowe
      5:30 pm April 10, 2017 Permalink

      The huge conglomerates are America and have been for decades. The illusion they taught us about America in school is just that.

  4. Sentient Third Eye
    10:11 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    Maybe the passengers were holding out for the next cash offer? STUPID mistake. Now it will cost them a fortune in lost business, not to mention a lawsuit.

    • Luether
      12:30 am April 11, 2017 Permalink

      Doubt it will cost them a fortune…

  5. blackmilk23
    10:19 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    Well he’s a doctor so he probably doesn’t need the money. But he’s about to get paaiiddd.

    • Urolex
      1:14 pm April 10, 2017 Permalink

      Good to see class warfare is still fair game! What if you had taken the day off of work the next day because you had an appt with him that would now be canceled. Worse yet, what if he was a surgeon returning home from a conference or lecture and he was scheduled to operate on your mother at 7:30 the next morning?

    • blackmilk23
      2:57 pm April 10, 2017 Permalink

      I’m confused? Are you implying that I think this is okay or something? Cause I don’t. I’m just pointing out that he’s going to sue the hell out of them and win. (Rightfully so)

  6. secrick
    10:21 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    He probably should have left the plane like the other 3 did.So he’s a Doctor.

    • Booby Petrino
      10:31 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      Why should he leave the plane when he paid for a ticket and the airline screwed up? Maybe the other 3 should have stayed like he did.

    • ksrbluesbrother
      10:39 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      Agreed. If the selection was random then he should have just gotten up and left the plane in a civil manner, especially if he was a doctor, which I doubt that he was considering his behavior. I would have asked the screaming woman in the aisle seat if she wanted to switch places with him. Bet she would of shut up then. PR nightmare? Yea, probably because wackos will try to make something out of nothing. The airlines have a job to do and it’s up to them to do it in the manner they see fit. If you won’t abide by their rules, then don’t fly with them but don’t feign outrage over this because you wouldn’t have offered him your seat. Overbooking happens every day, it’s part of the deal and the airlines offer good money for you to adjust. This guy/doctor was/is an idiot. Police should have arrested the bum for public disturbance.

    • TheNewOriginal
      10:40 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      secrick. The perfect trifecta. Clueless about how the world works, no empathy, and vocal about it. If there is a hell, I hope you rot in it.

    • TheNewOriginal
      10:45 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      And hopefully KSRBluesbrothers can rot with secrick. Travelled every week for 20+ years in my job. I saw numerous overbookings (a common occurrence.) In every case, they kept raising the stakes until someone volunteers to give up the seat. I’ve seen them offer multiple roundtrips to anywhere in the US. And, you think he should have given up his seat for few hundred dollars?

    • hal9944
      10:47 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      Ksr blues brother and secrick …MORONS.. nuff said about you two!

    • Realme
      10:50 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      Uh, New Original, you know you can disagree with someone without saying you want them to rot in hell, right?

    • RealCatsFan
      11:02 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      What if the guy really is a doctor, and he has some VERY sick patients who need his attention the next day. Maybe he is a heart surgeon or something. And what if someone doesn’t get the care that they need the next day because an airline overbooked his flight and forced him off the plane. I admit, this would be an extreme, unlikely circumstance, but you get my point. Random or not, this passenger may have had a very valid reason to NOT want to stay an extra night and give up his seat. The airline should respect this, instead of pandering to their profits.

    • ksrbluesbrother
      11:02 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      TNO and hal…Calling us names? Who’s the moron? All you little buttercups are all the same. You demand that the airline engage in a negotiation for the seats? Bet if you read the fine print, they have the legal written right to do what they did. You demand that you tell the airline how to run their business? Remember that at the end of the day, they must stay profitable to stay in business. If you don’t like reality then continue to live in your little fantasy world while calling those who don’t AGREE with you names…rich. Flying for 20+ years heh? So what? The airlines know what they will agree to pay for someone to give up their seats and that’s the limit, it’s their business to run. You don’t have to fly with them or anyone. Grow up. Most of the time, reasonable adults will make the adjustment to their schedules and move on…I’ve done it myself a few times when asked. Unfortunately, in this case, no one wanted to adjust and this guy was randomly chosen and the police did their job. Did the man have to scream and act the way he did. No he didn’t, he made the decision to act the way he did. They should have also kicked his ass when they got him off the plane and banned him from ever flying with any and all airlines in the future.

    • bdmnky81
      11:09 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      You did a decent job (for the internet) defending your view point. Then you let emotion get the best of you at the end. Now you aint much better than those you chastise for name calling.

    • CATandMONKEY
      11:13 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      BS Secrick and KSR bb. They were already on the plane. Tickets paid. If this had occurred before boarding it would be a different story. This was United’s eff-up. They could have transported their own employees any other number of ways.
      Yes this is a police state. …and that doesnt have to mean what YOU think it means for it to be true.
      Liberty and democracy are not synonymous. Too little of fhe former and too much of the latter; just enough to make people think they have any actual freedom to live.

    • ClutchCargo
      11:41 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      I think I actually recognize this doctor. I imagine this will be all over the local news tonight.

  7. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    10:31 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    I’m not usually a “this is horrible” person…but this is horrible.

    • Mathlete
      11:13 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      Same. Normally I’m of the belief that there’s more to the story than what’s reported and that it might look different in the context of the situation… but short of the passenger becoming violent first there’s no excuse to physically drag him from his seat, not to mention why he would have been bloodied while he was off the plane.

  8. inside info2
    10:33 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    This is what consolidation in the industry and monopolies do to you. All of the major airlines, with the POSSIBLE exception of Southwest are terrible when it comes to customer service because they can be.

  9. RealCatsFan
    10:34 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    Looks like United could learn a few things from Delta. They ordered pizza for several hundred passengers who were stranded by bad weather:

    I think I am selling my United stock and buying Delta.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      10:48 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      I once had a huge weather delay in Atlanta, and Delta treated us well that time. Of course, then-Governor Beshear was also on that flight.

  10. ClutchCargo
    10:37 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    For those who don’t seem to get it, all commercial flights are overbooked (if the demand is there to do so) to ensure every seat is filled in the event of a last minute cancellation. I voluntarily got bumped once coming out of Chicago to Louisville, just because they were offering a refund of the fare + $300 + free overnight lodging, and it wasn’t inconvenient for me to do so.

    But, yeah, the way this went down really sucked.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      10:49 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      I’d rather pay five percent more than risk being dropped. By buying a ticket, they have agreed to a contract to provide me a service. Failure to provide that service is bad faith.

  11. Catsby80
    10:38 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    Southwest is the airline of choice. They actually treat you with dignity and are respectful/cheerful 99% of the time. United Airlines generally sucks.

  12. Sentient Third Eye
    10:46 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    I once was booted off a flight from JFK to Cincinnati after they had already took my luggage. I had not yet boarded the plane, but they stopped me in line. I got so irate that I cussed them out and stormed out of the airport. Then I remembered that I was in a strange city with no luggage. After one night in an overpriced Queens hotel room, I finally got my original ticket honored at LaGuardia the next morning, but I have NEVER set foot again in JFK, and I don’t intend to ever do so.

  13. hal9944
    10:51 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    VOLUNTEERING MEANS JUST THAT.. if i want to volunteer then great, if i dont i shouldnt be harrassed ot attacked for it.

    • ksrbluesbrother
      11:07 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      Yeah but technically, paying federal income tax is voluntary also. Try that buttercup and see what happens.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      11:09 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      This is why I don’t volunteer to play Kentucky sales tax on things I buy out-of-state.

  14. blackmilk23
    10:58 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    In every overbooked flight I have been on they simply continue to raise the amount offered for the passengers until someone gets off.

    I’ve seen it go as high as $800.

    I have NEVER seen them stop at $400 and then just start kicking people off.

  15. tbbucs86
    11:07 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    no ksr blues it is called doing the right thing and offering the correct compensation. Southwest is great about it and I received 2 round trips once.

    • ksrbluesbrother
      11:13 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      That’s fine…don’t fly United and stay with SW. That’s what you should do. Don’t really see the purpose of posted this type of crap on KSR but bad decisions are on display everywhere. Unfortunately, this scene was unpleasant yes but it was United’s decision to make. They will live with the consequences. No one in this thread would have volunteered to give up their seat so that he screaming adult could have stayed but yet they castigate the airline for doing what was clearly their “right” to do. It’s called the real world and all the outrage is childish.

    • binarysolo
      12:01 pm April 10, 2017 Permalink

      @ksrbluesbrother What you’re failing to grasp here, over and over, is that you’re placing the blame of the situation on everyone except the actual airline. The airline that hired police to *beat* and *drag* an innocent man off a plane.

      The airline treated an innocent, paying customer like a criminal. This is the outrage.

      Of course, this is a free country and if is your right to believe that an innocent man can be beaten and dragged off a plane. Just don’t expect any sympathy when this happens to you.

  16. Sentient Third Eye
    11:08 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    Airlines should sell “Secured” and “Non-Secured” tickets, with the “Non-Secured” ones being cheaper, but those people can be bumped if necessary. Give passengers a 10% discount if they are willing to possibly by bumped. That would make these issues go away.

    • ksrbluesbrother
      11:24 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      This seems reasonable. Like I said earlier and although I’ve never read the fine print, I would imagine the airlines reserve the right to compensate the customer to their predetermined price limit or adjustment valuation to reacquire the seats. This situation was unfortunate but when no one volunteers they simply do what they did here. Ugly? Yes. The choice of seats was randomly chosen. The man acted like an idiot. He should just drive in the future.

    • ClutchCargo
      11:35 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      Call it an 11% premium for “secured” tickets and there might be a market for that.

  17. RackEmWillie
    11:12 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    I admittedly don’t care much for flying, unless it’s a majorly long distance. But, I’m kind of confused as to why they simply stopped at $400 and then started booting people. It’s always been my understanding and experience that it simply just devolves into a bidding war. This isn’t a good look for United, and I’m be pretty angry if I were that guy. Or any of the people chosen to get booted.

    If they had kept raising the price, then enough people would have taken them up on it. And then they would have avoided this situation all around.

  18. Underdog
    11:25 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

    KSRbluesbrother, you said, “Remember that at the end of the day, they must stay profitable to stay in business.” That’s what makes this airline’s actions very unwise. Is this type of treatment of passengers and the consequent massive, negative PR the way to “stay profitable”?

    Might there have been other ways to have handled the situation that would have been WIN-WIN and keep them profitable?

    This may end up costing them easily a million dollars in lost profits. Let’s be conservative and say it’ll cost them $20,000 in lost profits (due to people refusing to use their service and the pending the lawsuit that will at least cost United the legal expense).

    Could they have offered $800, or maybe $1000 to volunteers? There were probably several people on that plane that were about the cash in, but they selfishly didn’t want to pay a few more HUNDRED dollars. Very poor management and that poor, uncaring management will be rightfully punished by future consumers who choose to fly elsewhere.

    You can bet that smart managers elsewhere will use this as a case study to train their people so something like that doesn’t happen on their watch, just as a video of Oregon’s Bell will be used by smart coaches to demonstrate (a bad example of) the fundamental of boxing out on a FT rebound (against Meeks and UNC in the Final Four).

    • ksrbluesbrother
      11:53 am April 10, 2017 Permalink

      Udog…It’s not my/our job to worry about how they run their business. My only decision is who to choose as my airline carry my rotund being to my distant destination. If lady luck had dictated that of all those on the plane, I was randomly chosen to give up my seats, it would have been extremely disrespectful to expect some others to give up theirs because I refused. The airlines cannot nor should they conduct an auction to allow the passengers to somehow force the price they paid for the seats to be bid higher and higher. I think they have schedules to keep.

      Oh, and thank you for injecting some basketball discussion into this thread. I can completely agree with you on that note.

    • CATandMONKEY
      12:03 pm April 10, 2017 Permalink

      The “money” being offered isn’t cash or a prepaid Visa. It is a voucher for future travel on United. United knows that many of those vouchers are never used. They could have offered $2500 per passenger and still been better off than they are now. Poor form, United.
      One other thing: it doesn’t matter if this passenger is a doctor or unemployed. He paid for his ticket and had already boarded. This was NOT a safety situation. If the airline only got 3 volunteers then they only get to deadhead 3 of their last-minute employees.

  19. 2thepoint
    12:23 pm April 10, 2017 Permalink

    Very simple to fix, United should stop over-booking.

  20. UKJon in Knoxville
    12:27 pm April 10, 2017 Permalink

    My wife’s cousin’s wife is legally blind and got thrown off an American Airlines flight….

  21. Sentient Third Eye
    12:30 pm April 10, 2017 Permalink

    If I’m offered $400, I’m making a counter-offer of $10,00-0 and telling them the negotiation may now commence…

  22. jestcat
    1:21 pm April 10, 2017 Permalink

    If you think that was an uncomfortable situation, how would you like to have been the United employee that took his seat. I bet no one shared their peanuts with him/her.

  23. loservilletard
    2:14 pm April 10, 2017 Permalink

    typical Loserville person, thinks they do not have to follow rules. I can’t wait until the ncaa does this to little ricky pitino and his ‘tards….

  24. Luether
    12:37 am April 11, 2017 Permalink

    And all this has what to do with Ky sports?

  25. dballrb
    12:40 pm April 11, 2017 Permalink

    I worked for Delta,they are pretty good about these kind of things.