United Airlines is investigating the forceful removal of a man from one of its planes after one of its domestic flights was oversold. The police officer who dragged the passenger along the aisle has been suspended.
United Airlines apologized on Monday for what it acknowledged was an "upsetting event" when airport security officers boarded one of its flights and dragged a passenger off the plane.
Video emerged on social media within hours of the incident on Flight 3411 as it waited to depart from Chicago's O'Hare Airport for Louisville, Kentucky.
The footage, which was retweeted by several publications including Time Magazine, showed officers dragging a screaming man from a window seat, pulling him across the armrest and dragging him down the aisle by his arms.
Other passengers are heard saying, "Please, my God," ''What are you doing?" ''This is wrong," ''Look at what you did to him" and "Busted his lip."
The altercation took place as the airline attempted to make room for four of its employees on the Sunday evening flight.
One passenger told US media that volunteers were asked to give up their seats in return for $400 (377 euros) and later $800 in vouchers along with a hotel stay.
But when no one volunteered, a United Airlines manager boarded the plane and announced that passengers would be chosen at random.
Three of the four passengers named left the plane, but police were called when the fourth person refused to move. He said he was a doctor who needed to tend to patients.
Two officers tried to reason with the man before a third came aboard and pointed at him and ordered him to leave, before pulling him out of his seat.
The plane took off some three hours late after several other passengers got off the flight.
Chicago's Department of Aviation issued a statement on Monday saying that the officer had not followed protocol, and later told the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper that he had been placed on leave pending "a thorough review of the situation."
The officer's actions "are obviously not condoned by the Department," the statement added.
United CEO Oscar Munoz issued a separate statement, apologizing for "having to re-accommodate these customers."
Munoz said the airline was "moving with a sense of urgency" to work with the authorities and conduct its own review of the incident.
United also faced public anger last month, when two teenage girls dressed in leggings were stopped from boarding a United flight from Denver to Minneapolis.
Because the girls were using free passes for employees or family members, they were subject to a dress code, the airline said.
mm/jm (AP, dpa, Reuters)