United Airlines says sorry after evicted passenger video goes viral

The head of United Airlines has apologised for the treatment of a passenger being physically hauled off one of its flights before take-off.

“I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right,” Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz said in a statement.

United CEO Oscar Munoz: I’m sorry. We will fix this. https://t.co/v8EPGsiDCi pic.twitter.com/eOPiYcagvo— United (@united) April 11, 2017

The passenger, reportedly a doctor of Vietnamese origin, had argued he needed to fly to see patients. He is said to be recovering in hospital from injuries he sustained.

United Airlines passenger Dr. David Dao is recovering at a Chicago hospital, his attorney says pic.twitter.com/BHz79wDQRP— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) April 11, 2017

Social media and TV comedy shows have been having a field day over the United Airlines public relations disaster which saw video of the unfolding drama go viral.

In China alone, the video showing the man being pulled off the overbooked internal US flight was viewed hundreds of millions of times on the Weibo platform.

United Airlines’s response to violently dragging a passenger off a plane is to…do basically nothing pic.twitter.com/Y0E92JPiSx— NowThis (@nowthisnews) April 11, 2017

The episode brought a dip in shares of the airline’s operating company, United Continental Holdings Inc, of up to 4.4 percent on Tuesday.

“I think the investors relations department of the airline will clearly be pulling their hair out in the context of recent events, but I think in a sense it’s just symptomatic of an industry which does need to keep load factor as high as possible,” said Jeremy Stretch, Head of FX strategy at the Canadian bank CIBC.

The episode has focused attention on the common airline practice of overbooking.

“All airlines it is not just this particular one although they have handled this operation very badly, all airlines will routinely try to overbook their flights because they know, or they assume there would normally be a number of people who will book and not turn up,” Stretch added.

United faces global backlash after dragging passenger from plane https://t.co/nHxdHwjwqs pic.twitter.com/F67MVtnlbm— euronews (@euronews) April 11, 2017

United Airlines stock is being re-accomodated. $UAL pic.twitter.com/Zvr6a0R5vy— Anthony De Rosa  (@Anthony) April 11, 2017

The airline’s apology is in contrast to an earlier internal memo to staff, when United’s chief executive blamed the event on the passenger had defied security officers. In an earlier statement the airline’s boss apologised “for having to re-accommodate these customers”.

It is now promising a thorough review of company practice, including of how overbookings are handled.

Jimmy Kimmel goes off on United Airlines: https://t.co/zKmdHxfxv4 pic.twitter.com/oDGQIFR3uY— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) April 11, 2017

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