Weather Alerts

White House, Iowans React to United Airlines Flight Scandal

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

UNITED STATES  --  United Airlines is trying to dig itself out of a public relations mess.

Thousands of people have seen the video of a passenger bloodied and dragged off a flight for refusing to give up his seat. He was one of four people ordered off the plane in order to allow a United flight crew to fly to Kentucky.

United's CEO--who, just last month was named the Communicator of the Year by Public Relations News--didn't make the incident any better. On Monday morning, Oscar Munoz released a statement saying, in part, "I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers."

The response generated an immediate backlash on social media, but Munoz did not back down. In a letter to employees on Monday, he described the passenger as "disruptive and belligerent," and said workers followed established procedures. The outrage made it all the way to the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

"I think clearly, watching another human being dragged down an aisle, watching blood come from their face after hitting an arm rest and whatever, I don't think there's a circumstance that you can sit back and say this probably could have been handled a little bit better, when you're talking about another human being," said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

While the reaction from the White House did not help, this may have been the turning point for United. The company's stock fell more than $0.80 a share, costing the company roughly $300 million in market value.

As the losses mounted, the once "belligerent" passenger became the victim. United's CEO released another statement on Tuesday, saying, "Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight, and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way."

Munoz also promised a review of United procedures and says the results will be released publicly at the end of the month.

Since posting the story online, dozens have shared their thoughts and experiences on the Channel 13 page.

Christina Montalvo says the airline handled the situation wrong and should have upped the offer until someone did volunteer, adding, "Once you are on the plane, you are on. The crew should have been moved to another flight."


Bill Brunia tells us he stopped flying United years ago when they continuously overbooked flights, which caused him to miss training. He also believes it should be illegal to overbook flights.


While most were against the treatment of the passenger, one viewer did point out the way others reacted. Nicole Paulsen noticed how many of those on the plane were recording the incident with their phone. She says, "Instead of helping your neighbor, let's record them at a humiliating and degrading time in their life!"


Paulsen later added the airline should have continued offering more incentives to try and get volunteers.