United Airlines has been left to clean up a mess they weren't responsible for in the first place. Meanwhile, the true culprits have managed to lay low.
On April 9, United Airlines took a huge hit after a video of a bloodied passenger getting dragged off one of their planes went viral. A full understanding of the situation never picked up traction with the public, so the airline has been wrongly judged as the aggressor in the highly publicized altercation.
The actual story is as follows.
In order to understand who was operating the plane, from pilot to crew, one must grasp the concept of contracted airlines. In this situation, the event took place on one of United's Express carriers that was contracted and therefore separately owned by Republic Airlines. While tickets are sold by United Airlines, the flight is crewed by the regional airline Republic, Yahoo! Finance reported.
The now-infamous flight 3411 was operated and crewed by Republic Airlines -- completely separate from United Airlines. The passengers and crew were set to leave Chicago O'Hare International Airport and land in Louisville, Kentucky.
But it wasn't the crew that attacked the innocent passenger.
Prior to boarding, WBBM explains, passengers at the gate were informed that the airline needed a passenger to give up their seat in order to get another crew member to Louisville to join another flight crew.
Despite the lack of any volunteers, the flight was fully boarded. Once everyone was seated, the crew offered $400 and a hotel stay to volunteers willing to give up their seats. The offer received no takers, so the crew upped their offer to $800 and a hotel stay. And still, silence from the passengers.
The manager then picked four seats at random and the passengers assigned to them were told to leave the plane. Three of them accepted the compensation and willingly left the flight, but it was the fourth passenger, David Dao, who we all saw in the video getting dragged off the plane.
United Master Executive Council, the union representing the airline's 12,500 pilots, explained in a letter published on Yahoo! Finance that the flight crew was "courteous and calm throughout the event" and requested law enforcement only after many polite attempts to have Dao willingly leave the plane.
Rather than the Chicago Police Department showing up, a different department did -- the Chicago Department of Aviation.
The Chicago Tribune explained that the CDA is a group of around 300 officers that work alongside TSA and CPD. They must meet the same minimum standards that police officers do in training, and while they can temporarily detain and take people into custody, they can not file an arrest, nor can they carry a weapon.
In this incident, CDA personnel forcefully removed Dao, who was trying to explain that he was a doctor and had patients to see the next day.
Bloodied and surely confused, Dao was dragged by his arms as his body made its way down the airplane aisle, with passengers shouting at the officers.
It is the CDA who is truly responsible for the atrocious actions that took place on Flight 3411.
The Chicago Tribune reported that investigations into the department are ongoing, and Aviation Department spokesperson Karen Pride said: "Sunday's incident was not within standard operating procedures nor will we tolerate that kind of action."
Three of the CDA officers have been put on paid leave while investigations are conducted.
Meanwhile, United continues to publicly apologize (and not very well) for something they had no control over.