Shares of United Airlines (UAL) plunged nearly 4 percent in the morning session Tuesday, as outrage on social media over a passenger’s forcible removal from a flight continued to spread.
The company lost about 800 million U.S. dollars in total value in the morning session Tuesday.
A video released on social media showed that a bloodied passenger, who appears to be of Asian descent, is being dragged off a United Express flight by the aviation security officers, after he refused to give up his seat.
According to Chicago Tribune, the incident happened on a United flight at Chicago’s O’ hare international airport Sunday evening. United Airlines had the flight overbooked and asked for four volunteers to give up their seats to United employees, after everyone was already boarded.
The passenger said he was a doctor and had to be in Louisville on Monday for work, according to a Twitter account by a passenger on board.
Videos taken by other passengers on the same flight drew more than a million hits on social media, with many criticizing United Airline’s handling of the incident.
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz apologized Monday for having to “re-accommodate” the customers in an overbooked flight.
However, in a letter to its employees, Munoz said: “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.”
Other social media users chimed in, mocking the United for its tactics. Merriam-Webster Dictionary piled on Monday to the United Airlines public relations nightmare, giving the Chicago-based air carrier a public lesson on the meaning of “volunteer.”
“‘Volunteer’ means someone who does something without being forced to do it,” the dictionary tweeted.
Less than two days after the incident, 18-year-old Zishi Zhang, a college student in the UK, launched a petition that calls for a federal investigation of United Airlines’ actions.
So far, it has garnered more than 55,000 signatures of its 100,000 goal.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said Monday evening that it would probe the incident in which the United Airlines had one of its passengers forcefully removed.
“The DOT remains committed to protecting the rights of consumers and is reviewing the involuntary denied boarding of passenger(s)
FROM UNITED EXPRESS FLIGHT 3411 TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE AIRLINE COMPLIED WITH THE OVERSALES RULE,” IT SAID IN A STATEMENT.
AROUND MIDDAY, SHARES OF UAL TUMBLED 3.9 PERCENT TO 68.72 U.S. DOLLARS APIECE. (PNA/XINHUA