A man wouldn’t leave an overbooked United flight. So he was dragged off, battered and limp.
United Airlines says a man wouldn't give up his spot on an overbooked flight Sunday.
So, according to witnesses and videos of the incident, he was pulled screaming from his seat by security, knocked against an arm rest and dragged down the aisle and back to the terminal at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
United refused to answer questions about the incident, which horrified other passengers on the Louisville-bound flight. An airline spokesman only apologized for the overbooked flight, and said police were called after a passenger "refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily."
What happened was captured on cellphone video by at least two passengers.
— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017
Tyler Bridges recalled trouble starting almost as soon as he and his wife boarded.
An airline supervisor walked onto the plane and brusquely announced: "We have United employees that need to fly to Louisville tonight. … This flight's not leaving until four people get off."
"That rubbed some people the wrong way," Bridges said.
Passengers were offered vouchers to rebook, he said, but no one volunteered.
So the airline chose for them.
A young couple was told to leave first, Bridges recalled. "They begrudgingly got up and left," he said.
Then an older man, who refused.
"He says, 'Nope. I'm not getting off the flight. I'm a doctor and have to see patients tomorrow morning,'" Bridges said.
The man became angry as the manager persisted, Bridges said, eventually yelling. "He said, more or less, 'I'm being selected because I'm Chinese.'"
A police officer boarded. Then a second and a third.
Bridges then began recording, as did another passenger — as the officers leaned over the man, a lone holdout in his window seat.
@United overbook #flight3411 and decided to force random passengers off the plane. Here's how they did it: pic.twitter.com/QfefM8X2cW
"Can't they rent a car for the pilots?" another passenger asks in the videos.
Then the man, out of frame, screams.
One of the officers quickly reaches across two empty seats, snatches the man and pulls him into the aisle.
"My God!" someone yells — not for the first time.
He goes limp after hitting the floor.
@WHAS11 It looked like he was knocked out, because he went limp and quiet and they dragged him out of the plane like a rag doll.
"It looked like it knocked him out," Bridges said. "His nose was bloody."
His glasses nearly knocked off his face, the man clutches his cellphone as one of the officers pulls him by both arms down the aisle and off the plane.
"This is horrible," someone says.
"What are you doing? No! This is wrong."
And with that, Bridges said, four United employees boarded and took the empty seats.
They were not popular among the passengers, he recalled.
"People were saying you should be ashamed to work for this company," Bridges said.
And it wasn't over.
@WHAS11 10mins later, the doctor runs back into the plane with a bloody face, clings to a post in the back, chanting, "I need to go home."
In another video, the man runs back onto the plane, his clothes still mussed from his forcible ejection, frantically repeating: "I have to go home. I have to go home."
"He was kind of dazed and confused," Bridges said. He recalled a group of high school students leaving the plane in disgust at that point, their adult escort explaining to other passengers: "They don't need to see this anymore."
The airline eventually cleared everyone from the plane, Bridges said, and did not let them back on until the man was removed a second time — in a stretcher.
In the end, Bridges and his wife got to Louisville about three hours late.
"It was a pretty tense flight," he said.