Published: Fri, April 14, 2017
Finance | By Laverne Griffith

Lawyer: Dragged passenger 'poster child' for airline abuses


When Dr. David Dao was randomly selected to be removed from a flight, he refused and was subsequently dragged away, triggering a wave of public outrage and a flurry of apologies from United Airlines.

The doctor's legal team asked a court to force United Airlines and the city to retain all video and flight records pertaining to the flight, including the personnel records of the Chicago Department of Aviation officers who dragged Dao off the plane.

Zalewski revealed that the Aviation Department police may not have even been legally allowed on the plane, saying, "They are allowed in the terminal and baggage area, but my understanding is they may not be allowed on a plane".

The airline will look to a passenger's enrollment in their frequent flier programs and to the fare class of their ticket, said Brett Snyder, author and founder of the Cranky Flier travel blog.

Meanwhile, one of the 70 passengers onboard the flight offered more details about the incident.

Online videos captured on mobile phones by passengers on the flight show Dao manhandled by airport law enforcement on a United Airlines flight from Chicago, Illinois, to Louisville, Kentucky. After one of the chosen passengers, Dr. David Dao, refused to leave, United Airlines staff made a decision to remove him by force.

He said that being dragged down the aisle was more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced in leaving Vietnam.

"I would defy anyone to suggest that there was not an unreasonable amount of force used to help Dr. Dao disembark that plane", Demetrio said in a press conference Thursday.

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Demetrio said no one from United, including chief executive Oscar Munoz, had contacted him or the Dao family.

United Airlines violently removed a passenger from an overbooked flight departing from Chicago on April 9.

Dao's family is planning to sue, and his attorney says it's time for airlines to answer for how customers are treated.

Pepper, one of five children, said her father is a Vietnamese immigrant.

"He has no interest in ever seeing an airplane", Demetrio said of his client. But the plane had no empty seats and four crew members who needed to get to Louisville needed to get on the plane, said Megan McCarthy, a United spokeswoman. The legislation, expected this spring, is to outline what passengers can expect from airlines in situations such as bumping from overbooked planes or for lost or damaged luggage.

Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans told the committee that the officers had the authority to board the flight but that what happened on the plane is being investigated. Furthermore, they express their belief that the incident was entirely due to the "grossly inappropriate response by the Chicago Department of Aviation", and that all "social media ire" should be directed at them.

Attorney Thomas Demetrio at a news conference Thursday said that doctor David Dao has been discharged from a hospital, but the 69-year-old will need more medical attention.

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