"How did United Airlines' startling Passenger confrontation happen?" PBS NewsHour 4/11/2017
NOTE: There was a policy change announced a few days later. Employees needing to board a flight must show up 60 minutes BEFORE the flight, therefore they would be seated prior to other passengers boarding. Not that is an excellent fix.
SUMMARY: The forced removal of a passenger from a United Airlines flight Sunday has caused an international uproar. Video posted via social media showed passenger Dr. David Dao being dragged from his seat by officers. How could this have happened? Ben Mutzabaugh of USA Today joins Jeffrey Brown to discuss what airlines are allowed to do and what United could have done differently.
JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour): The international uproar continued over the forced removal of a passenger from a United Airlines flight.
Today, the airline's CEO, Oscar Munoz, issued an apology, saying — quote — “No one should ever be mistreated this way. I want you to know that we take full responsibility, and we will work to make it right.”
Along with the outrage, many were asking, how could this happen?
Our Jeffrey Brown picks up the story.
JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour): Well, by now, the video has been watched hundreds of millions of times, including more than 270 million on social media in China, where many wondered if the passenger had been singled out because he is of Asian descent.
The cell phone video shows a bloodied man identified as Dr. David Dao being pulled from his seat on a plane set to depart from Chicago on Sunday night. The flight was sold out, and passengers were first offered vouchers to take another flight, so members of a United crew could board. When that didn't work, Dao and three other passengers were asked to leave.
Questions remain about what happened, and what's supposed to happen in a situation like this.
Ben Mutzabaugh is covering it for USA Today, and joins me now.
And welcome to you.
BEN MUTZABAUGH, USA Today: Thanks for having me.
JEFFREY BROWN: One thing that was clarified today was that the flight was actually not overbooked, but oversold, right, sold out?
BEN MUTZABAUGH: Right. That's correct.
So, it won't move the needle a whole lot, given the video that we saw, but what technically happened was, the plane was full. United had four employees of their affiliate Republic Airlines that needed to make it to Louisville so more flights didn't end up getting canceled down the line.
They had to make space for them. They needed four volunteers. Three were OK with being voluntarily kicked off the plane. One wasn't, and here we are.