Anyone who saw the upsetting videos of a passenger being dragged off a United Airlines plane at April 8 at O Hare Airport had to wonder: Isn t there a better way to handle security at the airports?
The officers were unarmed Chicago aviation police, a little-known security force that was the topic of a different controversy earlier this year when the airport cops who carry radios, but not guns were notified in an email they wouldn t be expected to show up at disturbances in unsecured areas of the airports. Protecting unsecured areas is the job of the Chicago Police Department.
Why, people wondered then, were O Hare and Midway airports patrolled by cops who are expected to look the other way when people s lives are in danger? Now people are wondering why the aviation cops are on the loose even in the secured areas of the airports, where they apparently can t be trusted to handle a recalcitrant ticket-buying passenger without anyone getting hurt. The passenger in the videos, Dr. David Dao, got a concussion, broken nose and lost two teeth as airport police removed him from a plane. The most logical solution would be to put all airport security in the hands of Chicago Police officers. Tens of millions of travelers pass through O Hare and Midway airports each year, and they deserve competent protection.
The city s aviation cops get four months of police academy training and they must be certified each year to carry a firearm, even though they don t carry one while on duty. The airports have 292 aviation security officers. But the United incident cast doubt on their ability to handle even a situation where no one was being threatened. Last year, Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) suggested the answer was to arm the aviation cops. But it s unlikely anyone watching the video of aviation police removing Dr. David Dao from Flight 3411 thinks that s a good idea. Airports are busy places. Security challenges off all sorts can pop up at any moment. If the city can t come up with a better solution, it s time to turn over all airport security to the Chicago Police Department.
(CNN) — An attorney for David Dao, the passenger forcefully removed from a United Airlines flight earlier this week, outlined the 69-year-old physician’s injuries and told reporters Thursday he would file a lawsuit once they had completed their due diligence.
Already, the legal team has filed a chancery motion asking that all evidence in the case be preserved. Dao suffered “a significant concussion as a result of disembarking that plane,” attorney Thomas Demetrio said in a news conference in Chicago. Dao also lost two front teeth, has a broken nose and incurred injuries to his sinuses, and will be “undergoing reconstructive surgery in that regard,” Demetrio said. As millions saw via traditional and social media, Dao was aboard a Louisville, Kentucky-bound flight out of Chicago on Sunday night when Chicago aviation security officers forcefully pulled him from his seat and dragged him down the aisle of United Airlines Flight 3411.
His fellow passengers looked on, many of them filming it the incident. United would say later it had to remove Dao to make room for four of its own dead-heading employees, who needed to get to Louisville. The airline offered compensation at first, but when that didn’t convince enough passengers to take a later flight, it picked Dao randomly. In video shot by Joya and Forest Cummings, who were sitting behind him, Dao repeatedly refuses to disembark, explaining he is a physician and must work in the morning. Passenger Jayse Anspach told CNN that Dao and his wife initially agreed to take a later flight, but recanted upon learning that that flight wouldn’t take off till Monday morning.
“He was very emphatic: ‘I can’t be late. I’m a doctor. I’ve got to be there tomorrow,'” Anspach recalled.
The Cummingses said Dao was not belligerent and got only mildly upset when a second security officer arrived, demanding he leave the plane, they said. Dao never raised his voice, the couple said. As security officers pry Dao from his seat, he screams. In video shot after the altercation, streaks of dry blood run from the Kentucky doctor’s mouth. Passengers said he hit his head on an armrest. Asked later what was injured, Dao said “everything,” CNN affiliate WLKY reported. He was discharged from the hospital late Wednesday night, Demetrio said.
Three Chicago Department of Aviation officers are on leave following the incident, and the airline’s stock plummeted amid boycott threats. The company has since offered refunds to all passengers on that flight. United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz initially claimed Dao was belligerent, leaving security officers no choice but to employ force in removing him. Munoz later struck a tone of contrition, telling ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday that he felt “ashamed” over the incident and vowed never again to let law enforcement remove “a booked, paid, seated passenger” from a plane.
As for Munoz’s earlier claim that Dao was at fault due to his belligerence, the CEO changed his heading, telling the morning show, “He can’t be. He was a paying passenger sitting on our seat in our aircraft, and no one should be treated like that. Period.”
The incident repulsed many United customers, some protesting by cutting up their United mileage cards.
“My new #united card. Not planning to fly them any more after this,” Josh Perfetto tweeted. United took a hit on the stock market. Shares in United Airlines slipped by 4% Tuesday, and the company’s market value plummeted by $1 billion. Anyone can be kicked off an overbooked flight against their will. It’s an oft-overlooked policy to which passengers agree when they book tickets. Overbooking is legal, and most airlines do it in anticipation of no-shows, the US Department of Transportation said.
In 2015 alone, 46,000 customers were involuntarily bumped from flights, according to the Department of Transportation.
CHICAGO (AP) Several minutes after a passenger recorded a video watched around the world that showed security officers dragging another passenger off an overbooked United Express flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, a smaller snippet of video showed an even more troubling scene.
There stood the passenger who had been dragged on his back to the front of the plane, appearing dazed as he spoke through bloody lips and blood that had spilled onto his chin.
“I want to go home, I want to go home,” he said.
The treatment of the passenger on Sunday night prompted outrage and scorn on social media, and anger among some of the passengers on the flight as the unidentified man was evicted. It could prompt a backlash against United from passengers threatening to boycott the airline as the busy summer travel season begins. For Chicago, it is another public relations nightmare, adding to its reputation as a city unable to curb a crime wave in some neighborhoods, which President Donald Trump has highlighted with critical tweets.
The furor grew from a common air travel issue an overbooked flight. United was trying to make room for four employees of a partner airline, meaning four people had to get off the flight to Louisville.
At first, the airline asked for volunteers, offering $400 and then when that didn’t work, $800 per passenger to relinquish a seat. When no one voluntarily came forward, United selected four passengers at random.
Three deplaned but the fourth, a man who said he was a doctor and needed to get home to treat patients on Monday, refused.
Three men, identified later as city aviation department security officers, got on the plane. Two officers tried to reason with the man before a third came aboard and pointed at the man “basically saying, ‘Sir, you have to get off the plane,'” said Tyler Bridges, a passenger whose wife, Audra D. Bridges, posted a video on Facebook.
One of the security officers could be seen grabbing the screaming man from his window seat, across the armrest and dragging him down the aisle by his arms.
Other passengers on Flight 3411 are heard saying, “Please, my God,” ”What are you doing?” ”This is wrong,” ”Look at what you did to him” and “Busted his lip.”
“We almost felt like we were being taken hostage,” said Tyler Bridges. “We were stuck there. You can’t do anything as a traveler. You’re relying on the airline.”
United Airlines’ parent company CEO Oscar Munoz late Monday issued a letter defending his employees, saying the passenger was being “disruptive and belligerent.”
While Munoz said he was “upset” to see and hear what happened, “our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this.”
Chicago’s aviation department said the security officer who grabbed the passenger had been placed on leave.
“The incidence on United Flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department,’ the department said in a statement.
After a three-hour delay, United Express Flight 3411 took off without the man aboard.
Airlines are allowed to sell more tickets than seats on the plane, and they routinely overbook flights because some people do not show up.
It’s not unusual for airlines to offer travel vouchers to encourage people to give up their seats, and there are no rules for the process. When an airline demands that a passenger give up a seat, the airline is required to pay double the passenger’s one-way fare, up to $675 provided the passenger is put on a flight that arrives within one to two hours of the original. The compensation rises to four times the ticket price, up to $1,350, for longer delays.
When they bump passengers, airlines are required to give those passengers a written description of their compensation rights.
Last year, United forced 3,765 people off oversold flights and another 62,895 United passengers volunteered to give up their seats, probably in exchange for travel vouchers. That’s out of more than 86 million people who boarded a United flight in 2016, according to government figures. United ranks in the middle of U.S. carriers when it comes to bumping passengers.
ExpressJet, which operates flights under the United Express, American Eagle and Delta Connection names, had the highest rate of bumping passengers last year. Among the largest carriers, Southwest Airlines had the highest rate, followed by JetBlue Airways.
Associated Press Writer David Koenig contributed to this report.