The video of a United passenger being dragged off a flight raises 3 big questions.

Video footage of police officers dragging a screaming man off a United Airlines flight after he refused to give up his seat is sparking outrage and raising questions.

The man was randomly selected by the airline's computer system to be removed from the Louisville, Kentucky-bound aircraft to make room for United employees who were attempting to catch a connecting flight.

Passengers were reportedly offered $800 to disembark and be rebooked on a flight the next day, but no one accepted the offer.


The incident was captured on video, which ricocheted across social media.

United says the passenger was asked several times to leave the plane before the police stepped in to remove him.

"Our team worked as much as possible to have him deplane without having to involve law enforcement," a United spokesperson told Upworthy.

Bystanders' ability and willingness to record confrontations with authorities on their smartphones has changed the way we perceive and talk about events like these.

More importantly, these recordings force us to confront critical issues like:

1. Do police try to de-escalate situations like this? Or are they simply in the business of applying force?

The airline declined to provide detail on how the removal took place, referring questions to law enforcement. According to witnesses, however, the man went limp as officers pulled him down the aisle, suggesting the impact had perhaps knocked him out.

Later, the same witnesses reported, the man re-boarded the plane bloodied and apparently dazed — though the Chicago Police Department maintained, in a statement, that the police were called after the "passenger in question began yelling to voice his displeasure" and was taken to a local hospital to be treated for his injuries. The question remains: What, if any, steps were taken to tone down the situation before the police resorted to physical force?

How many airline passengers would have known they are at risk of being forcibly removed from a plane for not giving up their seats on request, if not for this video?

2. Should airlines even be able to overbook flights and boot passengers from flights they've paid for?

United says it followed Department of Transportation procedures for removing the passenger.

Furthermore, United's contract of carriage states that it has the right deny any passenger the right to board a flight if it is oversold. But how does that apply to customers who have already boarded the flight?

Airlines have pretty broad authority to boot passengers for safety reasons, but if you've paid for a ticket on a certain flight at a certain time, why should the airline have the right to remove you once you've already boarded? Let alone to make room for its own employees?

These recordings raise the question: When push comes to shove, what rights should airline passengers have?

3. Why are there rules restricting how much money airlines can offer people to give up their seats?

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Federal law limits the amount of compensation airlines can offer to bumped passengers to $1,350 — an increase from the $800 limit prior to 2011, but still a cap. Apparently, United didn't go that high (their offer stopped at $800) before deciding to have police eject the passenger. But for enough money, could they have gotten someone to take the offer?

What's the purpose of setting a limit in the first place? Should airlines be able to offer passengers as much money as they want if they really need to clear the space? Wouldn't that be preferable to potentially forceful interactions with passengers?

We might not even know to wonder if this interaction hadn't been caught on tape.

A United representative says the airline is reaching out to the passenger to address the incident.

In the meantime, it's doubtful we'd be having this conversation at all if bystanders hadn't used the technology in their pockets to record the event as it was happening.

Right now, the recordings raise more questions than answers.

It's a good thing we have them.

Update 4/11/2017: This article has been updated to remove a video that is no longer available.

True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less
via Tom Ward / Instagram

Artist Tom Ward has used his incredible illustration techniques to give us some new perspective on modern life through popular Disney characters. "Disney characters are so iconic that I thought transporting them to our modern world could help us see it through new eyes," he told The Metro.

Tom says he wanted to bring to life "the times we live in and communicate topical issues in a relatable way."

In Ward's "Alt Disney" series, Prince Charming and Pinocchio have fallen victim to smart phone addiction. Ariel is living in a polluted ocean, and Simba and Baloo have been abused by humans.

Keep Reading Show less
True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

With many schools going virtual, many daycare facilities being closed or limited, and millions of parents working from home during the pandemic, the balance working moms have always struggled to achieve has become even more challenging in 2020. Though there are more women in the workforce than ever, women still take on the lion's share of household and childcare duties. Moms also tend to bear the mental load of keeping track of all the little details that keep family life running smoothly, from noticing when kids are outgrowing their clothing to keeping track of doctor and dentist appointments to organizing kids' extracurricular activities.

It's a lot. And it's a lot more now that we're also dealing with the daily existential dread of a global pandemic, social unrest, political upheaval, and increasingly intense natural disasters.

That's why scientist Gretchen Goldman's refreshingly honest photo showing where and how she conducted a CNN interview is resonating with so many.

Keep Reading Show less

Schools often have to walk a fine line when it comes to parental complaints. Diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and preferences for what kids see and hear will always mean that schools can't please everyone all the time, so educators have to discern what's best for the whole, broad spectrum of kids in their care.

Sometimes, what's best is hard to discern. Sometimes it's absolutely not.

Such was the case this week when a parent at a St. Louis elementary school complained in a Facebook group about a book that was read to her 7-year-old. The parent wrote:

"Anyone else check out the read a loud book on Canvas for 2nd grade today? Ron's Big Mission was the book that was read out loud to my 7 year old. I caught this after she watched it bc I was working with my 3rd grader. I have called my daughters school. Parents, we have to preview what we are letting the kids see on there."

Keep Reading Show less