It was April 10, 2017, and United Airlines overbooked one of its flights from Chicago by four seats. So it offered vouchers of increasing amounts, up to $1,000, looking for volunteers. When no one responded, an airline employee simply said that they would bump four people at random so their flight could accommodate the more important guests — four of United’s employees.
Three people left without incident. But David Dao didn’t see a reason why he should be forced off the plane that he paid a ticket for. And so Delta called airport security officers to the scene, who savagely ripped Dao from his seat and rendered him unconscious. A video of Dao being dragged up the aisle, with blood dripping down his nose, went viral.
Dao did not speak publicly about the incident for two years, revealing in 2019 that he had no memory of being removed from the plane. He received a concussion, lost two teeth and incurred a broken nose from the incident, according to CNN. United settled with Dao out of court just a few weeks after the incident. Two security officers were fired.
While the whole fiasco was horrific, United’s CEO Oscar Munoz made it even worse. Despite passenger testimonials and video evidence, Munoz claimed that Dao was “disruptive and belligerent” while apologizing “for having to re-accommodate” the passengers.
Ironically, a month prior to the “re-accommodation,” PRWeek had awarded Munoz its Communicator of the Year award. After the incident, the publication published an editorial calling his response “tone deaf,” and said: “It’s fair to say that if PRWeek was choosing its Communicator of the Year now, we would not be awarding it to Oscar Munoz.”