United Airlines will compensate all the passengers who were on a plane when a man was dragged off by airport officers in Chicago. The company sought to quell the uproar over the incident by also announcing that it would no longer ask police to remove passengers from full flights.
In an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, United parent company chief executive Oscar Munoz said he felt “ashamed” watching video of the man being forced off the jet. He has promised to review the airline’s passenger-removal policy.
Mr Munoz, apologised again to physician David Dao, his family and the other passengers who witnessed him being taken off the flight.
“That is not who our family at United is,” he said. “This will never happen again on a United flight. That’s my promise.” In the future, law enforcement will not be involved in removing a “booked, paid, seated passenger,” Mr Munoz said. “We can’t do that.”
In an effort to calm the backlash, United also announced that passengers on United Express Flight 3411 would be compensated equal to the cost of their tickets. United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said on Wednesday that the passengers can take the compensation in cash, travel credits or miles.
The flight was loaded and preparing to leave Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Sunday when the man was dragged off. Video shot by passengers showing the man’s bloodied face went viral on social media, prompting a storm of protest.
Also on Wednesday, a Chicago alderman said representatives from United and the city’s aviation department have been summoned before a city council committee to answer questions about the confrontation at O’Hare Airport.
Alderman Mike Zalewski said he did not know who will represent the airline before the aviation committee, but Mr Munoz has been notified of the hearing scheduled for Thursday. Mr Munoz called the incident a “system failure” and said United would reassess its procedures for seeking volunteers to give up their seats when a flight is full.
United was trying to find seats for four employees, meaning it wanted four passengers to leave the plane.
The passenger was identified as Mr Dao, a 69-year-old physician from Elizabethtown, Kentucky. His lawyers filed court papers on Wednesday asking the airline and the city of Chicago to preserve evidence in the case. Those documents are often the first steps toward a lawsuit.
Airport officials have said little about Sunday’s events and nothing about Mr Dao’s behaviour before he was pulled from the jet that was bound for Louisville, Kentucky. Likewise, Chicago’s aviation department has said only that one of its employees who removed Mr Dao did not follow proper procedures and has been placed on leave.
The department announced on Wednesday that two more officers have been placed on leave. No passengers on the plane have mentioned that Mr Dao did anything but refuse to leave the plane when he was ordered to do so.