Attorneys of David Dao, the United Airlines passenger who was forcibly dragged out of a plane, have gone to court seeking to have the carrier preserve all the evidence that relates to the incident that occurred in Chicago, Illinois. This includes video recordings, personnel and crew lists, cockpit voice recordings. The lawyers say that their client risks being seriously prejudiced if the evidence is lost and now want United Airlines and Chicago city, which is in charge of O’Hare International Airport, to do all that is necessary to ensure the evidence is kept.
This comes as the chief executive officer of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz, publicly apologized to Dao, Dao’s family and customers of the carrier in an interview on ABC News. Munoz also revealed that the airline would stop the use of law enforcement officers in the removals of passengers from flights that are overbooked.
“This can never, will never happen again,” Munoz said.
The United Airlines chief executive has come under increasing pressure to contain the public relations crisis which has engulfed the airline and which has led to boycott calls. This is after videos of Dao being forcibly dragged out of the plane by airport and airline security staff were widely circulated on social media. Dao’s removal was necessitated by the need to accommodate extra flight crew members. The forceful removal led to Dao sustaining injuries and he had to be hospitalized.
In a bid to assuage its customers, United Airlines has now said that it would refund the passengers who were booked on Flight 3411 the full cost of their tickets. The customers have the choice of claiming their refund in miles, travel credits or in cash.
Besides the uproar from the general public, a section of lawmakers in the United States have proposed new legislation that bars carriers from overbooking flights in order to increase their revenues. Even U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in terming the incident ‘horrible’. However, instead of prohibiting overbooking, Trump proposed that the ceiling on what incentives airlines can give passengers in return for their seats when flights are overbooked should be done away with. Leaders from both the Democratic and Republican parties in the senate committees that is in charge of transportation have also criticized the actions that were taken by United.
The backlash was not limited to United’s domestic territory and calls for boycotts emanated from as far as Vietnam and China. An online petition was also started calling for the resignation of Munoz as United’s CEO.