NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - After an internal email criticizing a passenger who was dragged off a plane was made public, the CEO of United Airlines sent employees another letter that was more contrite.
Social media slammed Oscar Munoz for how he initially responded to disturbing videos of three police officers forcibly removing Dr. David Dao, 69, from a flight to make space for off-duty crew.
This is the text of the new letter.
The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. 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.
I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.
It's never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what's broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We'll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.
I promise you we will do better.
After apologizing to customers via Twitter, but not to the passenger, Munoz's earlier email to employees defends the crew's actions, calling the passenger "disruptive and belligerent" and praising his staff for going "above and beyond," according to copies of the memo circulated on Twitter.
Like you, I was upset to see and hear about what happened last night aboard United Express Flight 3411 headed from Chicago to Louisville. While the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did, to give you a clearer picture of what transpired, I’ve included below a recap from the preliminary reports filed by our employees.
As you will read, this situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help. Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.
I do, however, believe there are lessons we can learn from this experience, and we are taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding this incident. Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation.
Summary of Flight 3411
On Sunday April 9, after United Express Flight 3411 was fully boarded, United’s gate agents were approached by crew members that were told they needed to board the flight.
We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation) and when we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions.
He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft, and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.
Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight. He repeatedly declined to leave.
Chicago Aviation Security Officers were unable to gain his co-operation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist – running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials."
In video posted by several passengers to Facebook Sunday night, a plainclothes officer or security guard is seen dragging the man after he refused to get off the plane.
His seat and that of three others was randomly selected after no one would voluntarily disembark. The man is heard screaming in his seat as the officer pulls him off. He is then dragged along the center aisle with two uniformed officers trailing behind.
In a statement released Monday, Chicago's Aviation Department placed one of its security officers on leave for not following standard operating procedures, but did not clarify which of the men seen in the video he is, the AP reported. The department said it did not condone the officers' actions.
Munoz issued the following statement Monday via Twitter:
"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 addresses and resolve this situation."
According to the DailyMail.com, United said that four-stand-by staff needed to be in Louisville for a flight the next day and the plane would not take off until they had seats.
"Tone deaf," and "insensitive" read some of the posts which also include calls to #BoycottUnited.
Passenger Audra Bridges told the Daily Mail that the man dragged off is a doctor who needed to be at his destination for work in the morning.
"Please share this video. We are on this flight. United airlines overbooked the flight. They randomly selected people to kick off so their standby crew could have a seat. This man is a doctor and has to be at the hospital in the morning. He did not want to get off. We are all shaky and so disgusted. #unitedairways"
After the incident, the man returns to his seat covered in blood and disoriented. He was reportedly treated by a medical crew after all the passengers had been told to disembark. The flight resumed later in the evening.
United issued a statement late Sunday night to the Courier-Journal :
"Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked," the spokesperson said. "After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate.
"We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities."