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Screaming doctor dragged off overbooked flight

April 12, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

Images of a screaming, bloodied doctor have gone ballistic on social media, providing devastatingly bad publicity for United Airlines – a textbook case of how not to solve the problem of an overbooked flight.

Airlines use algorithms to work out the likely loading of flights. They deliberately overbook in the expectation of no-shows and cancellations.

Occasionally something goes wrong and there are too many passengers booked. That’s when airlines offer vouchers, monetary offers or inducements to persuade one or two passengers to take a later flight.

Just occasionally, no-one takes up the offer.

That’s apparently what happened on an US domestic flight at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. It led to a passenger, reportedly a doctor, screaming wildly and with a bloodied face, being dragged from a seat and down the aisle by security officers.

A 30-second video shows it all.

“Oh my God, my God, what are you doing?” a passenger yells as the security team moves in. “This is wrong. Oh no, look what you’re doing to him.”

The clip shows the incident, followed by a strange shot of the passenger, presumably the same man, running down the aisle in shock and repeatedly saying: “I have to go home, I have to go home.”

The man apparently said that he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning. United Airlines insists it “followed the right procedures” – but a scandal has erupted after it emerged that the passenger was forcibly evicted from the plane to make room for four United Airlines employees on the Sunday evening flight to Louisville, Kentucky.

United initially offered USD 400 and then USD 800 in vouchers and a hotel stay for volunteers prepared to relinquish their seats. Usually someone steps forward and takes the offer; it’s quite a good deal.

But not this time. When no-one volunteered, “volunteers” were chosen against their will – just like in the Army: “I need four volunteers, you, you, you and you.”

In United’s case, one of the airline’s managers boarded the plane and announced four passengers would be chosen at random.

Three of the chosen passengers left without demur. The fourth refused. Police were called and the drama took place.

Oscar Munoz, chief executive of United Airlines’ parent company, fully defended the actions of his staff, though he described the event as “upsetting” and apologised for “having to re-accommodate these customers”.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Fly the friendly skies (not)
    No wonder United Shares fell 4% in overnight trading

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