Evicted United Passenger Identified As Backlash Against Airline Grows

The man who went viral after videos of him being forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight sparked widespread outrage has been identified as physician David Dao.

Dao, seen bleeding, was injured while being dragged off an overbooked United plane by Chicago Aviation Officers. United CEO Oscar Munoz later stated in a company-wide e-mail that Dao’s treatment had been consistent with “standard procedures.”

Before being removed, Dao told officers that he needed to return home to see patients the next morning. Dao, a Vietnamese American man who went to medical school in Vietnam, is an Elizabethtown, Kentucky, pulmonologist whose license was suspended in 2005 due to multiple convictions of illegally obtained drugs and a sexual relationship with a former patient. In 2015, the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure permitted Dao to resume his practice under certain conditions.

The officer who removed Dao has been placed on leave, and an investigation is underway, according to the Aviation Department. “The incident on United Flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure, and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the department,” a department representative told Business Insider.

In addition to the widespread outrage in the United States over the incident, the video has also gone viral in China, with many citizens accusing the airline of racial profiling. These accusations of racism were also expressed by Dao himself as he was being removed. 


Following Dao’s eviction, Munoz stated that in the e-mail that he expressed “regret” but also claimed that he “empathically [stood] behind” his employees, who had “followed standard procedures.” Many detractors criticized the statement for its lack of an apology and its blame of Dao himself, who was described by Munoz as “disruptive and belligerent.” Munoz later issued an apology via tweet for “having to re-accommodate these customers.”

United is currently facing scrutiny by the U.S. Transportation Department, which is investigating whether the company broke any federal laws regarding overbooking.

Dao’s eviction follows another widely-publicized event last month in which the company was widely condemned on social media for sexism after barring teenage girls from a flight for wearing leggings. On Tuesday, the company’s stocks steeply dropped in value.


Correction: A previous version of this story stated Dao is Chinese. He is in fact Vietnamese American.