This is the moment a screaming man was knocked out and forcibly dragged off an overbooked United flight by cops while fellow passengers yelled in distress on Sunday night.
Three officers were filmed yanking the man from his seat in Chicago, bashing his head against an arm rest and dragging the seemingly unconscious man down the aisle as he bled from the mouth.
The man – who claimed to be a doctor and said he needed to see patients the next morning – was one of four randomly selected by United to leave the 5.40pm flight from O’Hare to Louisville.
United had unsuccessfully appealed for volunteers who were willing to give up their seats for $800, stay in a hotel and fly the next day. The passengers had to get off so airline staff could get to Louisville to man a flight the next day.
When the appeal fell on deaf ears they selected four passengers by computer. One couple left the plane at Chicago O’Hare peacefully, but the Asian man who was travelling with his wife refused.
That’s when airport law enforcement was called to remove him man by force.
Passengers screamed ‘my god what are you doing’ and ‘this is wrong’ as the man was yanked from his seat. He appeared to go limp after being slammed against a headrest and one passenger said he was ‘knocked out’.
Audra Bridges, one passenger who filmed the man’s removal, described what happened on the flight to the Courier-Journal.
She said that passengers were told at the gate that the flight was overbooked and staff appealed for one volunteer to accept $400 and a hotel stay to take a flight at 3pm the next day.
All the remaining passengers were then allowed to board the flight – only to be told that another four people would have to give up their seats.
United said that four-stand-by staff needed to be in Louisville for a flight the next day and the plane would not take off until they had seats.
Even when the offer was increased to $800, no one volunteered.
At this point, Bridges said a manager came onboard the flight and said four ‘volunteers’ would be randomly selected by computer.
After a couple was picked and left the plane peacefully, then man was selected and refused to leave the flight.
Staff told him security would be called if he refused to leave, and the distressed man then claimed he was a doctor who needed to be in Louisville the next morning and threatened to call his lawyer.
Three men described by the airline as law enforcement officers boarded the flight to remove the man – who still refused to budge.
At this point the officers yanked him out his seat as he screamed wildly – the episode seen in the video.
As the man, his glasses falling off his face and his clothes in disarray, is dragged out other passengers cried out in disgust: ‘Come on!’ ‘
But this was not the end of the drama. After being removed, the man apparently broke free from the officers grasp and managed to run back on the flight.
Bridges said he reappeared on the plane with a bloody face and seemed ‘disorientated’. Passengers were then taken off the flight as a medical crew boarded.
It took off later on Sunday night and landed two hours late.
Other footage of the incident was uploaded onto Twitter by Jayse Anspach, from Kentucky, who later deleted it and several tweets criticizing the airline.
United Airlines said in a statement: ‘Flight 3411 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. We apologize for the overbook situation.’
Another passenger, Tyler Bridges, also gave an account of the flight. He said on Twitter: ‘Not a good way to treat a Doctor trying to get to work because they overbooked
‘United Flight 3411 from ORD to SDF, the man was forcibly removed because the flight was overbooked and united crew needed to get to SDF
‘Kids were crying people are disturbed. Also after being removed the bloodied man somehow ran back on the plane repeating-I have to get home
‘I’m not sure, he told the police and the united employees he had to be at the hospital in the morning to see patients’.
Jayse Anspach was also on the flight. She said: ‘United overbooked and wanted 4 of us to volunteer to give up our seats for personnel that needed to be at work the next day.
‘No one volunteered, so decided to choose for us. They chose an Asian doctor and his wife.
‘The doctor needed to work at the hospital the next day, so he refused to “volunteer.” decided to use force on doctor.
‘A couple of airport security men forcefully pulled the doctor out of his chair and to the floor of the aisle.
‘In so doing, the doctor’s face was slammed against an arm rest, causing serious bleeding from his mouth.
‘It looked like he was knocked out, because he went limp and quiet and they dragged him out of the plane like a rag doll.
‘Ten mins later, the doctor runs back into the plane with a bloody face, clings to a post in the back, chanting, “I need to go home.”
Every year around 50,000 people with valid plane tickets are bumped off flights because they have been overbooked.