United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz on Monday night defended the forcible removal of a passenger as “established procedure” as critics — ranging from late night comics to the Merriam-Webster dictionary — teased or outright mocked the company’s statements.
“As you will read,” wrote Munoz in an email to employees, “this situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help. Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. 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 added that “treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are.” But he also said the man — who refused to give up his seat after United officials boarded an overbooked flight Sunday and selected passengers to remove to allow four of the airline’s crew members to be seated — was “disruptive and belligerent.”
Jarring video of the confrontation went viral by early Monday.
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