United CEO apologizes in full: ‘No one should ever be mistreated this way’

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

The chief executive of United Airlines issued another apology on Tuesday amid a firestorm of criticism sparked by the forcible removal of a passenger from an overbooked flight.

“The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment,” United CEO Oscar Munoz wrote in a letter to staffers. “I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. 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. I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.”

Videos showed the passenger, later identified as Kentucky doctor David Dao, being dragged from his seat by Chicago police before a Sunday evening flight from Chicago to Louisville. According to passengers, United staffers boarded the plane, and after no one accepted their request to voluntarily give up their seats for four crew members, the airline said a computer would select people. The man was selected and refused to leave, which led to security personnel violently dragging him from his seat.

Related: United Airlines loses $900 million in market value as shares tumble

Munoz was widely mocked for an initial statement that vaguely referred to the “upsetting event.” He had apologized for “having to re-accommodate” the customers who were bumped from the flight.

“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” Munoz wrote in his Tuesday memo to staffers. “I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement.”

Munoz promised to “communicate the results” of that review by the end of the month.

“I promise you we will do better,” the letter concluded.

The vow from United’s CEO came hours after the airline’s shares dropped more than 4 percent, taking upwards of $950 million in market cap value away from the company. It later recovered.

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