United Airlines has been embroiled in a terrible controversy since Monday, when a video of a man being violently removed from one of the company's aircrafts went viral. But now, an internal letter obtained by CNBC and other news outlets is bringing new waves of outrage to the web.
In a memo to the airline's employees, CEO Oscar Munoz doubled down on the company's course of action and said that the flight crew involved in the incident "was left with no choice" but to forcibly remove the man in the video from the overbooked flight. (The passenger has yet to be identified.) Munoz also wrote that the man's behaviour was "disruptive and belligerent" when he was asked to abandon the plane to make space for part of the United crew. In the videos of the incident, however, the man seems relatively quiet until the officers begin to use force.
In the memo, the CEO also included part of the "preliminary reports" filed by the airline's employees, whose description of the incident is somewhat similar to the eyewitness accounts — except it puts the blame on the passenger. According to said reports described in the letter, the passenger "raised his voice and refused to comply" and "became more and more disruptive and belligerent."
"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 wrote.
A third video that made rounds on Monday afternoon showed the man, with his face covered in blood, jogging disoriented through the aisle and saying "I have to go home."
At no point has Munoz mentioned apologising to the passenger; instead, he emphasised that he stands by his security 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," Munoz wrote. "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."
People on social media were quick to condemn the letter, because it made it seem like United Airlines were the real victims of the whole situation — not the man who was forcefully removed from his seat and violently dragged, bleeding, off the plane.