LOUISVILLE — A video posted on Facebook late Sunday evening shows a passenger on a United Airlines flight being forcibly removed from the plane before takeoff at O’Hare International Airport.
The video, posted by Audra D. Bridges at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, is taken from an aisle seat on a commercial airplane that appears to be preparing to take flight. The 31-second clip shows three men wearing radio equipment and security jackets speaking with a man seated on the plane. After a few seconds, one of the men grabs the passenger, who screams, and drags him by his arms toward the front of the plane. The video ends before anything else is shown.
A United spokesperson confirmed in an email Sunday night that a passenger had been taken off a flight in Chicago.
“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked,” said the spokesperson. “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.”
Bridges, a Louisville resident, gave her account of the flight Sunday night.
Passengers were told at the gate that the flight was overbooked and United, offering $400 and a hotel stay, was looking for one volunteer to take another flight to Louisville at 3 p.m. Monday. Passengers were allowed to board the flight, Bridges said, and once the flight was filled those on the plane were told that four people needed to give up their seats to stand-by United employees who needed to be in Louisville on Monday for a flight. Passengers were told that the flight would not take off until the United crew had seats, Bridges said, and the offer was increased to $800, but no one volunteered.
Then, she said, a manager came aboard the plane and said a computer would select four people to be taken off the flight. One couple was selected first and left the airplane, she said, before the man in the video was confronted.
Bridges said the man became “very upset” and said that he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning. The manager told him that security would be called if he did not leave willingly, Bridges said, and the man said he was calling his lawyer. One security official came and spoke with him, and then another security officer came when he still refused. Then, she said, a third security official came on the plane and threw the passenger against the armrest before dragging him out of the plane.
The man was able to get back on the plane after initially being taken off — his face was bloody and he seemed disoriented, Bridges said, and he ran to the back of the plane. Passengers asked to get off the plane as a medical crew came on to deal with the passenger, she said, and passengers were then told to go back to the gate so that officials could “tidy up” the plane before taking off.
Bridges said the man shown in the video was the only person who was forcibly removed.
“Everyone was shocked and appalled,” Bridges said. “There were several children on the flight as well that were very upset.”
The flight was delayed about two hours before it could fly to Louisville, and it arrived in Kentucky later Sunday night. No update was given to the passengers about the condition of the man forcibly removed, Bridges said.
Follow Lucas Aulbach on Twitter: @LucasAulbachCJ