United Pilots React
United Airlines pilots and their families are chiming in on the public relations disaster that befell the airline last week when a Louisville doctor was dragged violently from his seat off a plane after refusing to be bumped. The United Master Executive Council, which represents the airline’s 12,500 pilots, said its members are “infuriated” by the event. However, the union statement also points out that other than the paint job on the aircraft and the branding on the tickets, the incident actually had nothing directly to do with United. Dr. David Dao reportedly suffered a concussion and broken nose and lost two teeth when he was hauled out of his seat on a Republic Airlines aircraft (operating as United Express) by employees of the Chicago Department of Aviation. “No United employees were involved in the physical altercation,” the statement reads. “Social media ire should properly be directed at the Chicago Aviation Department." United announced Sunday that it had changed its policy to require traveling crew members to check in at least an hour before the flight so no seated passenger can ever be bumped to accommodate them.
The MEC statement doesn’t discuss the airline policies and staff actions that led to the “grossly inappropriate response” and says the “event was an anomaly and is not how United or the police are expected to treat passengers when there is no security threat.” A widely circulated post from Angelia A. Griffin, the wife of a United pilot who writes a blog called The Pilot Wife Life, pointed out that accommodating the four crew members who were bumping the paying passengers was actually required by a federal law aimed at ensuring flight crews are in place to keep the system functioning. She also laid some blame at the feet of Dao, who refused to comply with the direction of federal enforcement officers. In her criticism of Dao she incorrectly said the violent incident occurred after Dao had already been escorted from the plane and had illegally returned to his seat. Video of him returning to the aircraft was shot after he had been dragged away, not before.