The scene of an Asian male passenger being violently removed from a United Airlines flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has sparked a huge outcry online.
According to a statement released by United, the flight was overbooked. When no one volunteered, the airline decided to force an Asian man off the plane. “Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate,” United said.
The world responds on social media. The tag NewUnitedAirlinesMottos trends on Twitter, and social media becomes a nightmare for United. User GAMEINGDENG posted a picture of a plane in flight with the motto, “If we cannot beat our competitors, we beat our customers.” User BirdieWings80 wrote on Twitter, “We have an offer you can’t refuse. No really.” User snobers posted a picture of the competition: Southwest. The new logo reads, “We beat the competition. Not you.” User rdu3_richard posted a picture of a man hanging on to the wings of a flight, with the logo, “We’ll drag you all over the world.” User zenmasterchris gave us a look at the new seating chart, with a section of the airplane now devoted to a “fight club.” User jim_macd wrote in a tweet, “We can re-accommodate you the easy way…or the hard way,” and included a picture of passengers being thrown out of a flight. User VampireLestat shared an intimidating picture of United’s “Special Seating & Apparel Division.” The text of the tweet reads, “Come fly the friendly skies, if you dare.” And ianbremmer showed his support for their new app, which now supports “new drag and drop feature.”
On both Twitter and Facebook, people are calling for a boycott of United. To make a bad situation worse, the company is trying to get its own trending tag off the ground, so that passengers can share their “wanderlust” with others. United shares some of the tweets on its United Hub website. It is called “UnitedJourney,” and as you might expect, things are not exactly going according to plan. If you search for the tag on Twitter, you would be hard-pressed to find any pleasant photos of trips on United.
The viral video of the passenger being violently dragged off the United flight has caused outrage in China, too. On Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, the trending tag “美联航强制乘客下机” (UnitedForcedPassangerOffFlight) has been viewed more than 110 million times.