United Airlines faces social media backlash after forcibly removing passenger

PR pros, members of the media, and even celebrities are weighing in on the incident on social media, and how United's comms team has been handling it.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons, By John Taggart from Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex - N2690605012014LHR, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31808595)
(Image via Wikimedia Commons, By John Taggart from Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex - N2690605012014LHR, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31808595)

United Airlines is in the hot seat again, just two weeks after #LeggingsGate. The airline is facing backlash on social media after a video went viral of law enforcement violently ejecting a passenger from his seat on a Louisville, Kentucky-bound plane last night.

The disturbing footage shows three men wearing security uniforms dragging a customer by his arms and his legs out of his seat and through the aisle.

United’s initial statement on the matter attempted to provide context, explaining that the plane, traveling from Chicago to Louisville, was overbooked.

"After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate," the statement said. "We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities."

Police are telling media outlets the department was not involved in the incident. The officers and security personnel are with the Department of Aviation.

On Monday, United CEO Oscar Munoz followed up in his own statement.

"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," said Munoz.  

The airline has also been issuing canned responses to customers on social media who are voicing concern about what happened.

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, who sparked a debate last month after she tweeted about witnessing United Airlines not letting young girls in leggings board a flight due to their attire, has been tweeting out her advice to the airline after its latest faux pas.

PR pros, members of the media, and celebrities are weighing in on social media about the incident and how United’s comms team has been handling it.

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