United CEO Oscar Munoz talks about passenger removal controversy

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017
United CEO Oscar Munoz talks about passenger removal controversy
United CEO Oscar Munoz sat down exclusively with ABC News after controversy over the removal of a passenger from an overcrowded plane.

United CEO Oscar Munoz is speaking out on camera for the first time about the incident where a passenger was violently removed from a flight on Sunday.

"The word shame comes to mind," he said in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis. "That is not who our family at United is. And you saw us at a bad moment. And this can never, will never, happen again on a United Airlines flight."

Lawyers told ABC News that the passenger, 69-year-old David Dao, is at a Chicago hospital being treated for his injuries. Dao, a physician specializing in pulmonary disease, lives in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

When the video of the incident initially garnered attention earlier this week, Munoz acknowledged it was "upsetting," but also called the passenger "belligerent."

"My initial words fell short of truly expressing what we were feeling, and that's something that I've learned from," Munoz told Jarvis.

Dao was removed from the flight out of Chicago's O'Hare to make room for United crew members who needed to board to work a different flight. Dao and three others were chosen after no one volunteered to give up their seats in exchange for compensation. Dao was the only passenger who did not agree to leave after being chosen.

Munoz said the solution would be to re-examine the policies that led to the incident, allowing more room for employees to exercise common sense.

He also promised that United will never again use law enforcement to remove a passenger in a similar situation.

"[Sending law enforcement] to remove a booked, paid, seating passenger -- we can't do that."

When asked if he is considering resigning because of the incident, Munoz said no.

As for the passenger, Munoz said that he would like the opportunity to speak with him and apologize. He said Dao was not in the wrong.

"No one should be treated that way," he said. "Period."