United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has generated even more controversy after defending his flight crew's decision to drag a customer out of an overbooked flight in a private email to employees.
The airline has faced some serious backlash after footage surfaced online of an employee dragging a 69-year-old man off an overbooked flight to Louisville on April 9, the Daily Mail reported.
Munoz has since issued a public apology, stating that he "apologized for having to re-accommodate these customers."
But in a leaked private email to employees, Munoz defended his employee's actions and accused the passenger of being "disruptive and belligerent," The Independent reported. He also praised his staff for going "above and beyond."
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The email was reported in full by The Independent:
Like you, I was upset to see and hear about what happened last night aboard United Express Flight 3411 headed from Chicago to Louisville.
While the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did, to give you a clearer picture of what transpired, I've included below a recap from the preliminary reports filed by our employees.
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As you will read, this situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help.
Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.
I do, however, believe there are lessons we can learn from this experience, and we are taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding this incident. Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation.
The entire ordeal has given birth to a new trending topic on Twitter called #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos. Several social media users used it as an opportunity to mock the airline.
"Take off those yoga pants or we take off without you," wrote one user, referencing the March incident where two teenage girls were barred from a flight because their leggings were deemed inappropriate by a gate agent, The New York Times reported.
"Pepsi: oh no, this is a PR nightmare. United Airlines: Hold my beer," Quipped another user, referencing the soda company's controversial ad featuring Kendall Jenner, which they pulled after severe backlash from social media users who accused them of exploiting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Other tweeters used memes to mock the airline.