United Airlines CEO to visit China over dragged passenger


No one from United Airlines will be fired after a passenger was dragged from his seat and off a flight last week, touching off a national firestorm, CEO Oscar Munoz said Tuesday. Nobody took the $800 offer, so the airline "randomly selected" some "volunteers" who would be told to leave the plane they had already boarded. Many users of Weibo, a platform similar to Twitter, called for a boycott of United.

United has repeatedly apologised for the incident and announced two rule changes last week, including saying that it will no longer call police to remove passengers from overbooked planes.

"Many of us who fly frequently have experienced overbooking situations", Lipinski said, "but obviously how it was handled in this circumstance was unacceptable, and no passenger should ever be put through what this individual was".

The incident shined a new light on the practice of overbooking, which airlines increasingly rely upon to avoid losing money on seats left when some passengers do not show up for scheduled flights. He acknowledged "lots of conjecture" about his own fate at the nation's third-largest carrier and said "the buck stops here".

United Airlines executives say it is too soon to know if last week's dragging of a man off a plane is hurting ticket sales. On the call, Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz said he would have "further conversations with customers and related governmental officials" in an upcoming trip to China that had been planned prior to the incident.

Asked if there was a drop in bookings from China, where video of the incident provoked widespread outrage, Kirby said it's too early to say because there are too few days to measure possible changes. The company operates more nonstop US-China flights than any other airline, including flights to five Chinese cities, handling about 20% of US-China traffic. The airline is conducting a review of what happened with Dao, which is due April 30.

The week after Easter "is a very low booking period we don't have any quantifiable data", Kirby said. After Dao's removal, other customers booed the United crew when they appeared.

Despite concerns about United's reputation, its financial results soared, with adjusted earnings of 41 cents a share beating the 38 cents consensus forecast, despite rising fuel and staff costs.