The Latest: United CEO defends employees in plane incident

The Associated Press
This Sunday, April 9, 2017, image made from a video provided by Audra D. Bridges shows a passenger being removed from a United Airlines flight in Chicago. Video of police officers dragging the passenger from an overbooked United Airlines flight sparked an uproar Monday on social media, and a spokesman for the airline insisted that employees had no choice but to contact authorities to remove the man. (Audra D. Bridges via AP)

The latest on an incident in which a passenger was dragged from a United Airlines plane at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (all times are local):

6:12 p.m.

The CEO of United Airlines' parent company is supporting the way his employees handled an incident with a passenger who did not want to go after being asked to leave a plane on Sunday night at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

In a letter to employees Monday evening, Oscar Munoz said he was "upset to see and hear about what happened." He added, however, that the man dragged off the plane had ignored requests by crew members to leave and became "disruptive and belligerent," making it necessary to call airport police.

"Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this," Munoz told employees. "While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right."

Munoz said that the airline might learn from the experience, and it was continuing to look into the incident.

2:10 p.m.

Chicago's aviation department says one of its police officers involved in dragging a man off a United Airlines flight at O'Hare International Airport did not follow standard operating procedures and has been placed on leave.

The department said in a brief statement Monday it did not condone the aviation security officers' actions Sunday night.

The statement did not release the officer's name and it was not immediately clear which of the three men seen in the now-widely seen video taken by another passenger which one was placed on leave.

United has said that the incident came after the flight to Louisville, Kentucky, was overbooked and airline officials asked for volunteers to get off the plane. When none of them did, the airline told four passengers who were selected at random that they had to get off the plane. Three of them did but the fourth refused. United called the airport police, who came aboard the plane and dragged him away.

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12:25 a.m.

The CEO of United Airlines' parent company says the airline is conducting its own investigation after police dragged a passenger from an overbooked United plane after he refused to give up his seat.

United Continental Holdings Inc. CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement Monday that the incident late Sunday, which was caught on video, is "upsetting to all of us here at United."

United has said that the plane was overbooked and after fruitlessly asking for volunteers to leave the plane, employees selected four passengers at random to deplane. The airline requested law enforcement assistance when one man refused to leave.

Munoz says he is reaching out to that man to "talk directly" to him.

He apologized for having to "re-accommodate these customers" without elaborating.

The video shows the officers dragging the passenger down the aisle, as screaming can be heard.

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11:05 a.m.

A man says a fellow passenger who was dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight protested to airline employees that he was a doctor who needed to see patients in the morning.

Passenger Tyler Bridges of Kentucky says that's apparently why the man didn't want to give up his seat on the Sunday evening flight from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. United asked for volunteers then chose passengers when none came forward. United said it called police when the man wouldn't deplane. A video taken by Bridges' wife shows three security officials grabbing the man from his seat and dragging him down the aisle.

Bridges said the flight took off without the man after a three-hour delay. Bridges said when the flight did depart a United employee apologized to passengers.

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10:20 a.m.

A United Airlines spokesman says airline employees were "following the right procedures" when they called police who then dragged a man off a plane at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Charles Hobart says the employees were justified in calling law enforcement Sunday night to remove the man because the flight was overbooked and couldn't leave for Louisville, Kentucky, with too many passengers on board.

He said in an email that United employees had asked for volunteers and when none were forthcoming, four were selected to leave.

A video shot by another passenger shows the man being pulled across a seat and armrest and physically dragged from the plane.

Hobart says the man was removed by Chicago police but the police department says its officers were not involved. Officer Jose Estrada says the incident was handled by the city's aviation department police force.

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8:42 a.m.

Video shows three security officials dragging a passenger from a United Airlines flight at a Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

The (Louisville) Courier-Journal reports ( http://cjky.it/2oQtLIA ) a United representative confirmed Sunday night that a person was removed from Flight 3411 to Louisville, Kentucky, saying it was "overbooked."

Passenger Audra D. Bridges posted the video on Facebook. It shows the guards grabbing then dragging the passenger down the aisle. Screaming is heard and other passengers say "Oh my God" and "Look at what you did to him."

United said airline representatives chose four passengers at random when no volunteers agreed to leave the overbooked flight. They requested law enforcement assistance when one of them refused to leave.

Bridges says United asked for four passengers to relinquish their seats for airline employees on stand-by.