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Hired Goon Drags Man Off United Flight After He Refuses to Give Up Seat [Updated]

Image: Facebook/Audra D. Bridges
Image: Facebook/Audra D. Bridges

On Sunday, a man was forcibly dragged off a United flight headed from Chicago to Louisville after he refused to give up his seat to a United employee who “needed to be in Louisville” for a flight the following day, The Courier-Journal reports.


Passenger Audra Bridges, who uploaded a video of the incident to Facebook, told the newspaper that United initially offered customers $400 and a hotel room if they offered to take a flight the next day at 3pm. Nobody chose to give up the seat that they paid for, so United upped the ante to $800 after passengers boarded, announcing that the flight would not leave until four stand-by United employees had seats. After there were still no takers, a manager allegedly told passengers that a computer would select four passengers to be kicked off the flight.


The man in the video apparently claimed to be a doctor who had appointments with patients the next morning. After he refused to give up his seat, Bridges says a security official threw him “against the armrest before dragging him out of the plane.” According to Bridges, the seemingly disoriented man came back onto the plane with blood on his face and the crew asked passengers to go back to the gate so that United crew could “tidy up” the plane.

The flight eventually left two hours after its scheduled departure.

“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked,” a United spokesperson told Gizmodo. “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.”


In the world of contemporary capitalism, just expecting to receive the services you paid for is often too much to ask. And if you don’t want to be complicit in United’s (and other airline’s) scheme of overbooking flights to squeeze every penny possible, you could be forcibly dragged off a plane while other passengers look on in horror.

Update 11:00 AM ET: Another video shows the man returning to the plane looking disoriented.


Update 12:30 ET: The CEO of United has followed up with an awful, tone deaf statement.




Staff Writer, Gizmodo | Send me tips:

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This makes United seem almost unbelievably incompetent. Why were people allowed to board if they knew not all of them were going to be on the plane? Denying someone boarding is way easier than asking someone who’s sitting down to get off.

On top of that, it’s a 4 1/2 hour drive from Chicago to Louisville. I’m sure that pilot duty hours might be a factor here, but delaying a flight for 2 hours, and offering a total of $3200 + hotels to avoid having the four employees rent a car together just seems crazy, both from a customer service perspective, but also just from the sheer bottom line costs to United.