On Sunday, a United Airlines passenger was pulled from his plane seat and forcibly dragged off the aircraft – because the airline overbooked flight.
At least two passengers onboard captured the scene, which shows a man – who has not been identified – being forcibly removed from his seat and dragged down the aisle as others look on in apparent disbelief. Some clips appear to show that the man was left bleeding from the head after his face was smashed against an armrest during the scuffle.
United Airlines refused to answer questions about the incident. It horrified other passengers on the Louisville-bound flight. An airline spokesman only apologized for the overbooked flight, and said police were called after a passenger “refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily.”
Tyler Bridges tweeted, "Not a good way to treat a doctor trying to get to work because they overbooked. He told the police and the United employees he had to be at the hospital in the morning to see patients," Bridges further explained.Passenger forcibly removed from United Airlines flight.
It was also the second time in two weeks that Chicago-based United took a beating on social media, having previously been chastised for not allowing two teens wearing leggings – a violation of a dress code for employees and guests traveling on the company's dime – to board.
For the flying public, the episode served as a stark reminder that a seat isn't guaranteed until a flight is airborne. Almost half a million passengers on major U.S. airlines got bumped last year, but most of them volunteered to lose their seats in return for credits for future flights.
It's standard practice for airlines to sell more tickets than there are seats. Carriers calculate how much wiggle room they have based on past stats that track no-shows and offer passengers vouchers if flights end up too full, and no two airlines have the same approach.
"Airlines overbook because people don't show up for flights and they don't want to go with empty seats," said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com.