Passenger's Forced Removal from Flight Sparks Criticism of United Airlines, Overbooking

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United Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at San Francisco International Airport on July 8, 2015. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

On Sunday a United Airlines passenger was forcibly removed from his seat by police after refusing to give up his spot on an overbooked flight. The video of him being dragged by his arms down the aisle went viral and sparked a public relations nightmare for United. The airline's CEO Oscar Munoz apologized on Tuesday, promising a review of the company's practices. But that was after an emotionless public statement on Monday and a leaked company email that called the customer "disruptive and belligerent" and said that United employees "followed established procedures." We'll take a look at the practice of overbooking flights and how removing the Asian-American passenger might affect the airline's business in China, where state media described the passenger as being of Chinese descent.


George Hobica, founder,; “Fly Guy” columnist for

James Fallows, national correspondent, The Atlantic; author, "China Airborne"