United CEO Says Airline Isn’t Blaming ‘Belligerent’ and ‘Disruptive’ Passenger

“Our agents were left with no choice,” Oscar Munoz writes in letter to employees

Last Updated: April 10, 2017 @ 7:16 PM

United Airlines is doubling down on its claim that a passenger who was forcibly removed from one of its aircrafts due to overbooking was to blame for the incident.

In an email sent to employees around 5 p.m. local time on Monday CEO Oscar Munoz said the company had “no choice” but to remove the passenger — who was dragged out of the plane bleeding from his mouth — because he was “belligerent” and “disruptive.”

Munoz said that when company reps  “approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions.”

United Airlines was a top trending topic on social media Monday after a video showing the passenger being ousted went viral. The man, reportedly a doctor en route to seeing his patients, could be seen being dragged through the aisle with a bloody lip, as fellow passengers screamed in horror.

But Munoz seems to put all the blame squarely on the passenger.

“He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft, and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent,” Munoz went on to say in the email. “Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight. He repeatedly declined to leave.”

Munoz then claimed that, “Chicago Aviation Security Officers were unable to gain his cooperation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist – running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.”

Asked whether the company is placing blame on the passenger rather than taking responsibility for what many believe was an overreach by the airline, a company spokeswoman told TheWrap: “We’re not blaming the customer, just stating the facts.”

Earlier in the day, Munoz was slammed for his initial statement to the press, saying: “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.”

Many criticized him for playing down the severity of the incident. But the airline rep insisted the word “re-accommodate” does not “represent his intention.”

You can read the entire letter obtained by TheWrap below:

Dear Team,

Like you, I was upset to see and hear about what happened last night aboard United Express Flight 3411 headed from Chicago to Louisville. While the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did, to give you a clearer picture of what transpired, I’ve included below a recap from the preliminary reports filed by our employees. 

As you will read, this situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help.  Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right. 

I do, however, believe there are lessons we can learn from this experience, and we are taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding this incident. Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation. 

Oscar

Summary of Flight 3411

  • On Sunday, April 9, after United Express Flight 3411 was fully boarded, United’s gate agents were approached by crewmembers that were told they needed to board the flight.
  • We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation) and when we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions.
  • He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft, and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.
  • Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight. He repeatedly declined to leave.
  • Chicago Aviation Security Officers were unable to gain his cooperation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist – running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.

Keep
Reading...

Looks like you’re enjoying reading
Keep reading by creating
a free account or logging in.