< Go to Homepage

United’s Protocol for Passenger’s Forcible Removal Was ‘Years in the Making’

Planes By
United's Decision to Remove Passenger Was 'Years in the Making'
United Airlines has been criticized in recent days after airport police officers physically removed passenger Dr. David Dao from his seat and dragged him off the airplane, after he was requested to give up his seat for United Airline crew members. (Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images)


United Airlines’ decision to call the police and remove passenger David Dao wasn’t done on the fly, it was actually “years in the making,” according the Wall Street Journal.

Sources told the newspaper that following the company’s rules is part of its culture, and employees could lose their jobs for straying from them. What happened? Per the Journal, in choosing whom to remove from the flight, “agents used a computer program, as dictated by the rules, to pick fliers of the least value to the airline based on factors like ticket price paid and frequent-flier status.”

And though three passengers acquiesced, Dao did not. And that’s when the cops were called, because that was the next step in the company rulebook.

This comes on the heels of yet another incident over the weekend, where a couple on the way to their wedding were removed from a United flight, according to CBS’ Houston affiliate.

United’s problems don’t stem only from the company’s strict rulebooks, but also from its “messy merger” with Continental in 2010, in the words of the Journal. Instead of focusing on customer service, the newly christened company was dead-set on updating company infrastructure.

Clearly, the airline has a lot of work to do—and fast—to restore its image to consumers in the coming weeks, as many have begun to call for a boycott on social media.

Read the full Wall Street Journal article here.

Watch the disturbing video of Dao being removed from his seat below.