United CEO felt 'shame' after seeing passenger dragged off plane

Oscar Munoz tells ABC News exclusively, "This can never and will never happen again on a United Airlines flight."
7:30 | 04/12/17

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Transcript for United CEO felt 'shame' after seeing passenger dragged off plane
united airlines passenger being forcibly removed. The airline is under attack and everyone from the white house to comedians are reacting to how united handled the incident. Now the company's CEO is speaking exclusively to ABC news about what he calls that horrific event that sparked an international firestorm. ABC's Rebecca Jarvis just sat down with him in Chicago. Good morning, Rebecca. Reporter: Robin, good morning to you. And this was united's CEO Oscar Munoz's first interview since that incident that has sparked all of the outrage. It was a wide-ranging conversation and I asked him, what did he think when he watched that video? Oscar, this incident has sparked outrage around the world. There are calls this morning to boycott your brand. What did you think when you saw that video of a man being dragged off of one of your planes? Good morning and thank you for having me. It's not so much what I thought it's what I felt. Probably the word is shame comes to mind. You know, as I think about our business and our people, the first thing I think is important to say is to apologize to Dr. Dao, his family, the passengers on that flight, our customers, our employees. That is not who our family at united is. And you saw us at a bad moment and this could never -- will never happen again on a united airlines flight. That's my premise and that's my promise. Why not communicate that shame as you call it initially in your initial apology in your initial statement, you apologized for reaccommodating passengers and in your internal notes to your employees you talked about a belligerent and disruptive passenger. Why did it take until Tuesday to offer a more full-hearted apology. I think my first reaction to most issues is to get the facts and circumstances and the initial -- my initial words fell short of truly expressing what we were feeling. And that's something that I've learned from. The expression of apology and specific to folks I mentioned before is an important part of a conversation like this because, again, that shame and embarrassment was pretty palpable for me and for a lot of our family. You said this will never happen again. What will you be doing to ensure that promise? Well, as I've outlined in some of my messaging is really around reviewing a fairly deep and thorough review of a lot of our policies that support this. Specifically if I were to be here today as I am, I would tell you that the use of law enforcement aboard an aircraft has to be looked at very carefully. They're clearly there for the purpose of safety and want to make sure they protect us, but for other reasons, I think that's a policy we have to absolutely relook at. What went wrong in this scenario? It was a system failure. We have not provided our front line supervisors and managers and individuals with the proper tools, policies, procedures that allow them to use their common sense. They all have an incredible amount of common sense and this issue could have been solved by that. That's on me. I have to fix that. And I think that's something that we can do. What needs to change here specifically? Because if you look at the policy and a lot of people learned this week through this story and are surprised to learn that in the fine print you can be asked to leave a flight involuntarily without any compensation as you decide it. What needs specifically to change here? Were those flight attendant, were those employees of united, were they not enabled to offer people more money to voluntarily leave that flight? I think, again, back to the broader system issue, I think there's many of those points that I think we need to relook at. There is an incentive program that works pretty well outside of the gate, clearly when you get into an airplane and you're board and your luggage and you're situated your incentive model needs to change and that's one of the policies we'll look and do empower our front line folks to a degree but again need to expand and just those policies to again allow a little more common sense. In the future if to one voluntarily decides to leave a plane based on the amount of money that united is offering, will you -- We are not going to put a law enforcement official to take them off. A law enforcement official will never come on one of your planes again. To remove a booked, paid, seating passenger, we can't do that. Have you spoken to Dr. Dao? I have not. I have reached out to him and have left a message and our team has tried to reach him on several occasions. We've not been able to contact him directly. I do look forward to a time when I can as much as I'm able to apologize directly to him for what's happened. What do you think he deserves in all of this? Well, certainly an apology. And from that point on I think we'll have to see. Do you think he's at fault in any way? No, he can't be. He was a paying passenger sitting on our seat in our aircraft and no one should be treated that way. Period. There are a number of pr professionals who believe that this was handled improperly by you and your company. And some are even calling for you to resign. Have you considered that option? No, I was hired to make united better and we've been doing that and that's what I'll continue to do. Reporter: He also was asked by me why now after all of the controversy, why come out, why have this conversation now? And he said, that he didn't believe he had expressed the proper sentiment initially. He also told me, robin, it is never too late to do the right thing. There's a good point in that. You know, Rebecca, I don't have to tell you there are so many people who have seen this video around the world and are really concerned about flying with united, concerned that something like that could possibly happen to them. What is the advice that Munoz has for those concerned? Reporter: We talked about this in the conversation as well. I asked him, point blank, what he would say to our viewers and, robin, he said that they're conducting an internal review that he plans to make changes, he mentioned one of those changes in the interview that you heard just there about not taking people off the flights, using law enforcement in the future but they're conducting an internal review and says his aim is to continually do better for all united passengers, robin. All right, Rebecca Jarvis, getting this interview, thank you, thank you for sharing this with us and our audience. Really appreciate it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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