Video of a passenger being dragged from an at-capacity United Airlines flight on Sunday has prompted a major backlash on social media, with some vowing never to fly the carrier again.
Three security guards were seen hauling the passenger off a United jet bound for Louisville, Kentucky, at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Sunday. He was selected at random to be removed because the flight was at capacity, and only overbooked when the airlne realized employees needed four seats on board, according to the airline's description of events.
"United" was trending on Twitter Monday morning, and some people online were promising a boycott of United after seeing the video. The man, who has yet to be publicly identified but whom other passengers have said was a doctor, screamed as he was taken from his seat.
United said airline representatives chose four passengers at random for removal when no volunteers agreed to leave the flight.
People who posted video of the incident said United had asked for the four passengers to relinquish their seats for airline employees on stand-by.
The bad PR reminded some people of a different scandal that the airline was embroiled in after it removed two girls from a flight in March because they were wearing leggings, deemed improper attire.
Others recalled last week's uproar over a tone-deaf Pepsi commercial, where model Kendall Jenner hands a police officer a can of soda at a protest, suddenly defusing all the tension. The ad was quickly pulled, but became an internet sensation.
Some on Twitter Monday reflected on how the purported problem-solving power of a Pepsi might have helped in this situation, while others felt that the major brand was benefiting from another's big blunder taking the spotlight.
United's initial statement offered an apology "for the overbook situation," but CEO Oscar Munoz released a statement Monday going further.
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 with him to address and resolve this situation.
But earlier Monday, an airline spokesman told The Associated Press employees were "following the right procedures" in calling law enforcement because the flight was overbooked after the airline realized four employees needed seating, and it couldn't leave with too many passengers on board.