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Man Dragged Off United Flight for Refusing to be “Bumped”

Social media video shows a United Airlines’ passenger being dragged from his seat and down the aisle of the Louisville-bound plane on his flight Sunday night. Apparently, United had intentionally overbooked the flight – a common practice – and asked the man to relinquish his seat to make room for crew members. According to the man, he is a doctor and refused the request because he had to be in Louisville for work.

Video posted to social media shows the man being forcibly removed from his seat, and dragged by his arms, amid disapproving shouts from passengers. Prior to the incident, the man wasn’t behaving badly; United staff simply needed to bump a passenger, and they picked him. But he didn’t want to be bumped.

“After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate,” United said in a statement. “We apologize for the overbook situation.” If your rights have been violated by an airline or any other corporate entity, a Boston personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages.

NJ Senator Calls the Incident Disturbing

United’s Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz apologized on Monday for “having to re-accommodate these customers.” However, New Jersey Senator Robert Menednez called Munoz’s statement an “empty apology,” and said the incident was “disturbing.” Further, in an internal message sent to United employees, Munoz seemed less apologetic, alleging that the man became “belligerent” after repeated requests to leave his seat. Munoz went on to write that “the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did.”

One of the officers involved in the incident has been suspended by the Chicago Department of Aviation. United released a statement saying that “the incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department. That officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation.”

It is quite common for fully-booked flights to have multiple empty seats because people failed to show up for their flight. Overselling seats helps to maximize airline revenue. When too many people show up, the problem is usually easily solved by offering certain passengers money or free airline tickets to relinquish their seat in exchange for a later flight, a process referred to as “bumping.” However, Sunday’s incident shows that bumping can become confrontational in certain situations.

An Easy Solution

According to CFRA Research analyst Jim Corridore, United could have avoided this situation by offering more compensation. This may have enticed more passengers to volunteer to be bumped. “We think this situation was handled in a deplorable fashion, but note that United has the right to refuse boarding to any passenger for any reason,” said Corridore. A MA injury lawyer can help if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Personal Injury Law Firm

If you have been harmed by another’s negligence or carelessness, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. Sometimes people in positions of power use that position to bully others. If your rights have been violated, you may be entitled to compensation for financial losses and physical injuries you suffered as a result. Our experienced, knowledgeable lawyers can review the details of your case to determine the most appropriate legal strategy. We will position you for the most favorable outcome and remain by your side throughout the entire process. If you have been harmed, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.