United Airlines has reached a settlement with Kentucky physician, Dr. David Dao, who was dragged off a plane at O’Hare International Airport in early April. The incident aboard Flight 3411 was captured on video by passengers on the plane and widely shared online around the world. It quickly became an international embarrassment for both the carrier and the city’s aviation department.
Dao’s attorney Thomas Demetrio, announced that a settlement had been reached, but terms were not disclosed. The airline released a written statement in response to the announcement: “We are pleased to report that United and Dr. Dao have reached an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard flight 3411. We look forward to implementing the improvements we have announced, which will put our customers at the center of everything we do.”
The airline unveiled new policies earlier in the same day the settlement was reached. Part of the new policies include a promise to not use law enforcement to remove overbooked customers from planes, additional training for front-line employees and setting up an automated system that will ask passengers at check-in if they would be willing to give up their seat. United CEO Oscar Munoz also pledged to reduce the amount of overbooking and offer up to $10,000 for customers willing to volunteer to take a later flight.
Dao’s attorney praised Munoz for agreeing to the settlement. “Mr. Munoz said he was going to do the right thing and he has. In addition, United has taken full responsibility for what happened on Flight 3411, without attempting to blame others, including the City of Chicago. For this acceptance of corporate accountability, United is to be applauded.”
Demetrio added “Dr. Dao has become the unintended champion for the adoption of changes which will certainly help improve the lives of literally millions of travelers. I sincerely hope that all other airlines make similar changes and follow United’s lead in helping to improve the passenger flying experience with an emphasis on empathy, patience, respect and dignity.”
Dr. Dao, 69, of Elizabethtown, Ky., was one of four passengers picked to be bumped from an April 9th flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Ky., to make room for four airline employees who were added to the flight shortly before it departed. When he refused to leave, multiple Chicago Department of Aviation security officers were called to remove him.
According to a report released by the Chicago Department of Aviation, Officer James Long boarded the plane to respond to a disturbance involving two passengers who were refusing to leave the aircraft. When he approached Dao’s seat and asked him to leave, Long said Dao “folded his arms tightly” and refused to leave the aircraft. The officer said he was able to “hold” the physician in order to remove him from his window seat.
A struggle ensued between Dao and the officer in the isle of the aircraft. Dao, who was hospitalized in Chicago, suffered a concussion, a broken nose and lost two teeth in the ordeal. The viral video shows Dao being dragged by his arms down the aisle of the plane as other passengers watch in horror.