A common overbooking problem on a United Airlines flight on Sunday ended with a man being bloodied and dragged from his seat and an already troubled airline earning more bad press. How did it all go so wrong?
Overbooking on flights happens all the time. Empty seats cost airlines money, so they offset the number of passengers who miss flights by selling too many tickets.
In this case, the problem arose because United decided at the last minute to fly four members of staff to a connection point and needed to bump four passengers to make way for them.
When there’s an overbooking issue the first step is to offer an inducement to the passengers to take a later flight. On Sunday passengers were offered $400 (?322), a hotel room for the night, and a flight the following afternoon.
When no-one took the offer, the amount was upped to $800. Still no-one bit, so a manager boarded the flight and informed passengers that four people would be selected to leave the flight.
That selection is based on several factors, but frequent fliers and higher fare-paying passengers are given priority to stay aboard, a spokeswoman for United confirmed.
A couple who were selected agreed to leave the plane voluntarily. A third passenger, reportedly the wife of the man who was forcibly removed, also agreed. The man, who said he was a doctor and had to see patients in the morning, refused.
At this point, the airline could have identified another passenger for removal or raised its offer anywhere up to a maximum of $1,350.
Erin Benson, a spokeswoman for United, could not confirm whether other passengers were sought. She did confirm that no offer was made above $800, but could not comment on why.
An eyewitness said the man was "very upset" about the possibility of being bumped and attempted to call his lawyer. An airline manager told him that security would be called if he did not comply.
At this point, security officers came to speak to him, first one then two more. As the video shows, their conversation ended with the man being yanked from his seat onto the floor and dragged off, blood visible on this face.
Mr Munoz said the airline would review the event and "reach out" to the passenger, though a spokeswoman could not confirm whether United was in touch with him yet.