LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A Louisville-bound passenger was forcibly dragged off a United Airlines flight Sunday night in Chicago because it was overbooked.
The head of United Airlines calls the incident upsetting. Monday afternoon, the Chicago Aviation Department placed one of those police officers in the video on leave.
Joya Cummings and her toddler son were right behind the doctor, she says she did move further away right before that man was pulled from his seat.
She says the flight was overbooked and officials said passengers had to make room for four united employees telling us about the announcement overhead, “They said, we're not going to leave until we have four volunteers.”
Cummings thought she was in the home stretch, ending an almost 24-hour flight from a family vacation in Japan She captured cell phone video of a Kentuckiana doctor on United Flight 3411.
She says the man was randomly selected by a computer to give up his seat, adding, “It seemed grossly overbooked and just for an airline's policy to be such that you would remove a ticketed passenger instead of making other arrangements for your flight crew to get to Louisville, they could have flown, they could have ridden with another airline.”
Cummings says the man was approached by a United official, he refused to leave and then the aviation officers were called onto the plane.
Cummings describes, “It was just no – you’re going to leave, he was hoisted out of his seat. In that situation it looked like his head hit the armrest of what looked like was my husband's seat and then he was drug out and his lip was busted and he looked unconscious when he was drug out.”
Cummings says just about everyone on the plane was disturbed and uncomfortable as the man was being forced off the flight, “Most of the passengers on the flight were upset with United Airlines and how they handled it, I don't think many passengers are aware when you purchase a ticket that you may lose your seat, because you assume you have a ticketed seat.”
The passenger had his lip cut and somehow ended back on the plane, paramedics were called and the plane was evacuated for hours. It’s a flight home she'll never forget and now United Airlines has launched an investigation.
We’re told the airline was offering $400-$800 vouchers for volunteers to give up their seats.
Below is a response from United Airlines CEO:
“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.” – Oscar Munoz, CEO, United Airlines