Passenger forcibly removed from flight has ‘troubled history;’ United shares slip

Fallout continues after video was posted online that shows a passenger on a United flight being forcefully and violently removed from the plane.

Passenger David Dao was forcibly removed from the Louisville, Kentucky-bound and overbooked United flight 3411 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport Monday after there were no volunteers to rebook.

United Airlines’ parent company CEO Oscar Munoz defended his employees, saying they followed proper procedures in dealing with the situation. But the Chicago aviation department suspended the security officer who dragged off the flight a man who refused to voluntarily leave.

On Tuesday, the Courier-Journal reported of Dao’s “troubled history in Kentucky.”

Dao, working as a pulmonologist when he was arrested in 2003, The Courier-Journal reports. Dao was “convicted of drug-related offenses after an undercover investigation.” Court documents allege that Dao “was involved in fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances and was sexually involved with a patient who used to work for his practice and assisted police in building a case against him.”

The Courier-Journal also report:

Dao was convicted of multiple felony counts of obtaining drugs by fraud or deceit in November 2004 and was placed on five years of supervised probation in January 2005. He surrendered his medical license the next month.

United Airlines is also facing backlash, financially and in the court of public perception.

Shares in United Airlines slipped by more than 3% in the first few minutes of trading Tuesday as the company scrambled to address a video showing a passenger being forcibly dragged off an overbooked flight.

United Continental Holdings weathered the initial waves of anger caused by the video on Monday, with shares closing with a 0.9% gain. But momentum appears to have turned overnight.

The incident sparked a massive reaction online.

Following the backlash, United CEO Munoz issued a statement calling the incident “upsetting” and apologized “for having to re-accommodate” customers.
But that failed to appease many customers. Public relations analysts have also panned the company’s public response to the incident.

Anger was not limited to the U.S. The incident was the number one trending topic Tuesday on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, attracting more than 100 million views.

China is one of United’s most important growth markets.

The Chicago-based carrier is the U.S.’s third largest airline by passenger traffic, operating more than 4,500 flights a day to 339 airports across five continents.

The company has been trying to revamp its image after ranking near the bottom of airline customer satisfaction indexes for several years. It is updating its fleet and last year added free snacks, premium coffee, better Wi-Fi and upgraded airport lounges.