Video footage of a passenger violently dragged off a United Airlines flight — after he refused to give up the seat he had purchased because the plane was overbooked — is sending shockwaves throughout social media.
According to accounts, passengers were offered cash and hotel vouchers to give up their seats on the overbooked Chicago-Louisville flight in order to accommodate four airline employees who needed to work on a flight leaving Louisville. When not enough volunteers offered to give up their seats, passengers were allegedly chosen at random and essentially ordered to give up their seats.
One man, who identified himself as a doctor and said he needed to see patients the next morning, refused to leave his seat. What happened next was disturbing-bordering-on-horrifying as officers from the Chicago Department of Aviation police force violently hauled the man out of his seat, allegedly smashing his head on the armrest and then dragging him — stunned and possibly unconscious — off the plane while passengers reacted in horror.
“My God, what are you doing?” says one nearby passenger to the officers, while another remarks, “This is wrong!”
Video of the incident went viral after it was posted on Twitter:
In another video posted to Twitter, the passenger appears to be dazed, repeatedly saying, “I have to go home, I have to go home,” his face covered in blood.
While United released the above statement and the officer responsible for injuring the passenger has been suspended, outrage ensued throughout social media, with numerous celebrities weighing in on Twitter, with Ellen DeGeneres addressing the incident on her daytime talk show on Tuesday.
“There was a United Airlines flight in Chicago that was overbooked, and to make room for people, they forcibly removed one of the passengers — did y’all hear about this?” said DeGeneres. “It’s crazy, they charged him a $50 removal fee. That’s not true, that’s not true. No, your first forcible removal is free.”
DeGeneres continued to hammer away at United. “Everyone on the flight was very upset by this,” she added, “and top of it all, the in-flight movie was ‘Manchester by the Sea’. So it was very depressing, the whole flight — can you imagine?”
Noting that the airline had “a computer pick a random person and just took them off the plane,” she added: “That seems like a bad policy. Here’s a better policy: Don’t overbook your flight.”
Meanwhile, United has probably lost the business of stars such as Jaime King, Billy Eichner, Chrissy Teigen, Alan Cumming and many more, who blasted the airline for its ridiculously violent response to someone whose only crime was that he wanted to take a flight that he had already paid for.