US protesters have demonstrated at Chicago O'Hare International Airport to express their anger against the forced removal of a passenger from a United Airlines flight by police.
The protesters gathered Tuesday to show their outage at the brutal removal of an Asian American passenger from a domestic flight, accusing the company of racial discrimination.
Some demonstrators said the CEO of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz, should quit.
In a statement, Munoz called the episode “an upsetting event.” But his response to the passenger’s removal has been widely criticized. Initially Munoz called Dao “disruptive” and “belligerent.”
Ahmed Rehab, the Executive Director of the Chicago Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group, said there were many ways to avert what happened to the passenger.
“Airlines have to understand that they cannot act with impunity,” Rehab said. “Policies have to change, customers have to be respected and minorities and everyone else as well.”
US Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who represents Illinois's 9th congressional district, which includes many of Chicago's northern suburbs, said she is considering legislation to stop involuntary deplaning in overbooked flights.
The removal of Dr David Dao, 69, from a United Airlines flight by security officers on Sunday sparked outrage after video of the disturbing incident circulated online.
Dao refused to be removed from the flight and screamed as a security officer yanked him out of his seat and dragged him down the aisle by his arms. His glasses slid down his face, as uniformed officers followed.
The tussle led to the man’s face being slammed against an arm rest, causing serious bleeding. The man is currently hospitalized due to the injuries he sustained in the violent confrontation.
Tyler Bridges, a passenger on Sunday’s flight who posted a video to Twitter, said in a telephone interview on Monday that “it felt like something the world needed to see.”
The passenger complained that he had been singled out because he was Chinese, Bridges said. “It was really intense, really uncomfortable.”
The Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement on Monday that the incident “was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure” and that an officer had been placed on leave pending a review of the matter. The department declined to identify the officer.
Many flyers are now urging a boycott of the carrier and some protested the airline’s response by ridding themselves of the company reward scheme and other perks.
Photos of destroyed United-Chase credit cards and frequent flyer cards were posted online by disappointed former customers.
Aninda Sadhukhan used his shredder to dispose of his United MileagePlus Explorer card with Chase Bank on Monday. "This is certainly something that happened on United, but this is a systemic issue," Sadhukhan said. "I think the entire consumer protection of overbooking a flight should be looked into. It feels like there's little recourse for the consumer. "
The Chicago-based carrier is the US's third largest airline by passenger traffic, operating more than 4,500 flights a day to 339 airports across five continents.
(Source: News agencies)