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Leaked email from United Airlines CEO blames passenger for violent removal

Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, is doubling down on his support for United employees who had a doctor dragged off of a flight kicking and screaming.

In an email to employees obtained by CNBC–presumably from an employee who received the email —Munoz said he “deeply regret the situation arose,” but said he “emphatically stand[s] behind all” of the employees of the company, and added that he “want[ed] to commend” airline workers for “continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.”

CNBC’s Ryan Ruggiero tweeted screenshots of the letter, which included Munoz’s version of events, worded in a way that blamed the victim for the incident. In the minutes preceding the video of the event, which went viral on Monday morning, United Airlines workers asked for four passengers to volunteer to leave the plane and board another flight to make room for United staff members on the plane, as the airline overbooked the flight. When nobody volunteered to give up their seats, flight crew members randomly selected the 69-year-old man — who was a doctor on his way to see patients — to be removed.

“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,” Munoz wrote in his email to employees. “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.”

INBOX: @united CEO sends letter to employees about United Express flight.

— Ryan Ruggiero (@RyanRuggiero) April 10, 2017

“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,” Munoz added. “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.”

The man running back on the flight “in defiance” of United Airlines workers and Chicago Airport Police officers was also caught on camera, where the man, visibly upset, kept saying “just kill me” with a bloodied face:

#flythefriendlyskies @united no words. This poor man!!

— Kaylyn Davis (@kaylyn_davis) April 10, 2017

While Munoz issued a boilerplate statement in response to the viral video of the man’s removal from the plane, notably absent from the statement was an apology to the paying customer who was roughed up at the behest of the airline he gave his money to. An initial statement from a company spokesman also lacked an apology to the customer.

“We followed the right procedures,” a corporate spokesman said shortly after the video started spreading on social media. “That plane had to depart.”

The officer who removed the passenger has since been placed on leave.

Read the letter below, initially made public by CNBC assignment editor Ryan Ruggiero:


Tom Cahill is a senior editor for the Resistance Report based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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