United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz told his employees via email on April 10 that a violent incident on April 9 involving a passenger being pulled off a plane by airport police at Chicago's O'Hare airport was the fault of the passenger.
ABC News reporter Michael Del Moro tweeted Munoz's internal memo in which he commended United employees for "continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right" April 10:
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.
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.
On Sunday, April 9, after United Express Flight 3411 was fully boarded, United's gate agents were approached by crewmembers that were told they needed to board the flight.
We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation) and when we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions.
He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft, and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.
Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight. He repeatedly declined to leave.
Chicago Aviation Security Officers were unable to gain his cooperation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist -- running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.
Munoz did not mention that the passenger was bloodied when forcibly removed from the plan by airport police, the outrage voiced by other passengers on the plane, or the backlash against United since videos of the incident went viral.
In a public statement tweeted by United on April 10, Munoz did not apologize to the passenger: "We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation."
The fallout against United on social media sites, including Twitter, was enormous on April 10. One Twitter user posted an aftermath video of the passenger bleeding from his mouth and repeating, "I have to go home."
She wrote in her caption: "#flythefriendlyskies my husband was on that flight. Screw you United!!"