As if air travel wasn't stressful and chaotic enough, airlines routinely complicate matters even further by overbooking flights. But on an overbooked United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday, an intense incident unfolded when one of four passengers randomly selected by the airline to give up their seats refused.
Multiple videos and social media posts show a man being forcibly removed from his seat and dragged off the plane through the aisle by security personnel at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Passengers had already boarded flight 3411 and were waiting to depart, when the flight crew informed the passengers that four people must give up their seats for United employees needed in Louisville the next day, or the plane would not take off, according to a report by the Courier-Journal. Although the airline offered $800 and a hotel stay, nobody on the flight volunteered to give up their seats.
As the paper explains, a manager for the airline boarded the plane and used a computer to randomly select the four passengers who would have to give up their seats. A couple was selected first and left the plane, but the chaotic episode occurred when the crew approached a man who was also selected but refused to leave the plane. A witness said the man became upset and said he'd call his lawyer because he's a doctor and needed to see patients in Louisville the next morning. Even after the manager threatened to call security, he would not budge.
Videos offer an incomplete account of the incident, but they show the moment when at least three security personnel grabbed the man, removed him from his seat, and dragged him down the aisle -- all while other passengers watched in shock and expressed outrage. The man can be heard screaming when they pull him from the seat.
A passenger on the plane named Audra D. Bridges posted the following description and video in a Facebook post just moments after the incident: "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."