*The CEO of United Airlines apologized again Tuesday amid worldwide outrage over video of a bloodied passenger being dragged screaming from his seat on a flight that, it turns out, was not even overbooked as United had initially stated.
“I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight, and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard,” CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement Tuesday (April 11). “No one should ever be mistreated this way.”
The tone was a far cry from a leaked email to staffers sent by Munoz Monday evening, where he praised the behavior of the flight crew and called the passenger, Dr. David Dao, “disruptive and belligerent.” Munoz went on to credit employees with following established procedures.
“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,” the letter stated. “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.”
Munoz conceded, however, that “there are lessons we can learn from this experience,” and he promised an investigation.
Chicago aviation officials placed one of the security officers involved in Dr. Dao’s removal on leave, saying the incident “was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure.”
Meanwhile, United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said Tuesday that all 70 seats on United Express Flight 3411 were filled, but the plane was not overbooked as the airline previously reported. Instead, United and regional affiliate Republic Airlines, which operated the flight, selected four passengers at random to be removed to accommodate crew members needed in Louisville the next day.
The incident came two weeks after United was dragged for forcing two girls to change out of leggings before boarding a flight in Denver. United explained that leggings and yoga pants are on its banned attire list for people flying with employee pass privileges because such fliers are viewed as representing the company.