United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has issued a new apology regarding Monday’s incident in which a passenger was dragged from an overbooked flight so that United employees could fly on the plane to its destination.
“The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment,” Munoz said in a statement on the airline’s website. “I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.”
Munoz promised that the airline would take full responsibility and would work to “make it right.” Munoz said that the airline will conduct a review of crew movement, its policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how the airline handles oversold flights and how it partners with airport authorities and local law enforcement. The airline promised to communicate the results of its review by April 30.
The airline’s previous statement on the incident, in which Munoz apologized “for having to re-accommodate these customers,” had been criticized by many PR professionals as being insufficiently sympathetic. The older statement had also fanned a social media backlash, with a satirical hashtag #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos trending on Twitter throughout much of Tuesday morning as travelers used it to mock the airline’s response.
A fellow passenger posted a Facebook video of the incident, in which United Airlines informed passengers after they had boarded that the plane was overbooked, and four passengers would need to leave in order to allow United Airlines personnel to take the flight to its destination. The airline initially offered an incentive of $400 and a free hotel night, followed by $800. When no passengers volunteered, the airline randomly began selecting passengers to remove. One passenger refused to leave, claiming that he was a doctor who needed to see patients the next day. The airline called security officers, who dragged the man down the aisle and from the plane. That video has since been taken down from Facebook.