NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two days after videos of man being dragged off a full United Airlines flight went viral, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pulled no punches sharing his view of the airline: “Everybody who flies commercial knows United is awful.”
Christie made his scathing remarks during a cable network morning show Wednesday, roughly the same time as when United Airlines chief executive officer Oscar Munoz said he felt “ashamed” watching the video of Dr. David Dao of Kentucky being dragged off his United Express flight in Chicago on Monday.
“What we saw the other night, unfortunately, is typical of the attitude of United Airlines,” said Christie.
The incident began as United was trying to make room for four employees of a partner airline, meaning paying passengers had to get off.
At first, the airline asked for volunteers, offering $400 and then when that did not work, $800 per passenger to relinquish a seat. When no one voluntarily came forward, United selected four passengers at random.
Three people got off the flight, but the fourth, Dao, said he was a doctor and needed to get home to treat patients on Monday. He refused to leave. Shortly afterwards, three Aviation Department police officers got on the plane, confronted him and ended up grabbing Dao from his window seat and dragging him down the aisle by his arms.
“They kicked that guy off the plane to make money,” Christie said Wednesday.
“I talk to constituents in New Jersey all the time who really, if you live in the northern part of the state, you have no choice but to fly United,” Christie said, blaming a large market share over competitors and growing pains between the company cultures of Continental and United, referring to the two airlines’ merger in 2010.
“United uses that: They overbook it, they have less planes, they make more money… They’re doing it with the permission of the federal government,” the governor added, calling out President Donald Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to look into how the airlines have been using their booking systems.
“What I’m saying to the administration is, stop them from doing it,” Christie said. “You want to do regulatory reform, let’s do it.”
In the video recording during the incident with Dao, other passengers are heard saying, “Please, my God,” ”What are you doing?” ”This is wrong,” ”Look at what you did to him” and “Busted his lip.”
After people were horrified by the video, Munoz said the airline was reaching out to Dao to “resolve this situation.” Hours later on Monday, his tone turned defensive. Munoz described the passenger as “disruptive and belligerent.”
By Tuesday, Munoz issued his most contrite apology yet, describing the incident as “truly horrific.”
“No one should ever be mistreated this way,” said Munoz.
Meanwhile Wednesday, there was more criticism of United Airlines on the grounds of its medical preparedness.
Dr. Amer Syed told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell he was flying from Los Angeles to Newark when the flight crew called for a doctor. He found a young woman in agony and opened the onboard medical equipment.
“When I pulled out the stethoscope, the stethoscope fell apart,” Syed said. “The blood pressure apparatus was subpar.”
Syed hooked the woman to an IV, but wondered why the equipment came up short.
“In this situation, I completely fault United Airlines,” Syed said.
Dr. Barry DiBernardo also jumped in. He gave credit to the flight crew.
“The flight attendants were as helpful as they could be,” he said.
The patient was stabilized and taken to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.