Although the case has now gone to the courts and the passenger did eventually receive a settlement, it’s an issue that has completely shocked me.
Now, I’m not mainly shocked because of the way he was removed, I think we can all agree no one deserves to be dragged out of a plane.
I’m also not shocked because the flight was overbooked in the first place; people who have travelled the world (I haven’t) continue to assure me that overbooking is a common occurrence.
No, what’s shocked me about the man who was forcibly removed from the United Airlines flight was the reaction of the bystanders forced to witness the event.
As the officers entered the plane, they had already created enough commotion to make sure the attention of the passengers was on them when they approached 69 year old, Dr David Dao, to tell him he was legally required to depart the aircraft.
After his apparent noncompliance, one officer proceeds to grab Dr Dao and he can then be heard audibly screaming “Hey!” loudly multiple times in a video posted to Facebook by fellow passenger, Audra D. Bridges.
As Dr Dao is finally removed from his seat and lying on the ground, a woman can be heard yelling “No!” Another man tries to get the officer’s attention, saying, “come on.”
At this point, Dr Dao’s glasses have been pulled off his face and his are clothes ruffled up. “No this is wrong,” proclaims the same woman who was yelling before. “Oh my god, look at what you did to him,” she continues.
“Yeah guys, good one,” sarcastically remarks the male passenger.
It’s at this point that the video ends. Personally, this video absolutely disgusts me. Two passengers can be heard audibly protesting the man’s violent arrest – yet they do nothing to help.
Not one passenger looked at the struggling Dr Dao and had the guts to stand up and tell the officers that they would step off the plane in his place. United Airlines had reportedly offered US$800 vouchers and a hotel stay to anyone who volunteered to get off the plane, and I imagine that deal still would’ve stood if someone volunteered to get off during Dr Dao’s uncalled for scuffle.
But instead, none of them, not a single person, felt like they could change the officers questionable actions by sacrificing their own trip and getting a lavish hotel suite to comfort them in return.
The most common reason a passenger won’t get off an overbooked flight is because they need to be in a location immediately, they can’t afford to wait. This, funnily enough, was the reason Dr Dao refused to leave the plane.
And, if every single passenger just ‘had to be on that plane’, and this is why no one could sacrifice their own trip, then I’m afraid to say, someone was lying.
In the moment a police officer dragged Dr Dao, against his will, along the narrow cabin of an airplane, not one human being – even those who verbalised their disapproval of the actions – felt they could sacrifice their own flight and calmly leave the plane to save the basic human rights deserved by Dr Dao.
Steven Walton is a 16 year old student currently attending St Andrews College in Christchurch, New Zealand. He was brought up with two older brothers and his big passions are sports (especially motorsport), people and writing. He runs his own motorsport blog, Green Flag F1 (www.greenflagf1.com) and is aspiring to be a journalist when he is older.