United Airlines has released a new statement in the David Dao case, apologizing to the doctor and saying the passenger dragging incident has been a “harsh learning experience.”
Crystal Dao Pepper, one of Doctor David Dao’s five children, appeared on April 13 at a press conference with Dao’s high-powered Chicago personal injury lawyers and said her family went through pain and horror at seeing viral videos of the 69-year-old Kentucky physician being dragged off a plane. The United statement was released right around that time.
United’s statement reads:
We continue to express our sincerest apology to Dr. Dao. We cannot stress enough that we remain steadfast in our commitment to make this right.
This horrible situation has provided a harsh learning experience from which we will take immediate, concrete action. We have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again.
First, we are committing that United will not ask law enforcement officers to remove passengers from our flights unless it is a matter of safety and security. Second, we’ve started a thorough review of policies that govern crew movement, incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. Third, we will fully review and improve our training programs to ensure our employees are prepared and empowered to put our customers first. Our values – not just systems – will guide everything we do. We’ll communicate the results of our review and the actions we will take by April 30.
United CEO Oscar Munoz and the company called Dr. Dao on numerous occasions to express our heartfelt and deepest apologies.
Dao attorney Tom Demetrio had said at the press conference that Dao hasn’t spoken with United. The press conference took place at 11 a.m. EST in Chicago. Crystal Pepper was the only member of the family present at it, and she lives in the Chicago area. Her husband was also present, Demetrio said. Dao himself was not at the press conference.
The airline’s public statements have grown increasingly sympathetic to Dao as public pressure mounts.
“We were completely horrified and shocked at what had happened to my father when we learned of the incident. Seeing it on video made those emotions exacerbated. My dad is healing right now,” Crystal Dao Pepper said in an April 13 news conference, alongside Dao’s attorneys.
“It has been a very difficult time for our entire family, especially my dad, and we are truly grateful for your support,” Crystal, a married mother from the Chicago area, said. “What happened to my dad should never have happened to any human being regardless of the circumstance.”
In a previous written statement, Dao’s attorneys said he remained hospitalized for his injuries in Chicago as of April 11. The family is “appreciative” of the support directed their way since the incident occurred April 9, that statement said previously.
Dao has earned sympathy across the world – and United has earned a heap of scorn – after security pulled him down an airplane aisle because United needed to get a group of crew members to Louisville. The scene, including Dao’s bleeding face, was captured on viral videos by other passengers.
Dao suffered a significant concussion as a result of being dragged off the plane, and he had a serious broken nose, injury to the sinuses, and he is going to be undergoing shortly reconstructive surgery, Dao’s attorney Demetrio said at that press conference. “He lost two front teeth, ” the lawyer added in the first detailing of Dao’s injuries.
Crystal said her parents immigrated from Vietnam, and his lawyer said David Dao felt it was “more harrowing” being dragged down the plane aisle than fleeing Vietnam as a refugee. “This was not a troubled passenger. This was not a nut job. This was not a threat to anyone… He’s a 69-year-old man. Is that really the way we want to treat the aged?” asked Demetrio.
Dao is taking legal steps to sue the airline. Demetrio said the City of Chicago might be responsible for the incident, as well as the airline. Demetrio said Dao could be a “poster boy” for mistreatment of passengers by airlines.
You can watch video of the press conference at 11 a.m. Eastern here. It all adds up to a nightmare for United Airlines, which has earned international outrage and condemnation since the Dao videos hit social media.
Dao’s lawyer said the airline failed the doctor.
“We owe each other an ordinary care standard,” Demetrio said. Airlines have the “highest” requirement of care for their paying passengers, he said. “That was not done in this case,” Demetrio said, with Crystal sitting next to him. “I would defy anyone” to say there was not unreasonable “force or violence” used to get Dao to disembark the plane, Demetrio said. He said he had received many calls from employees and former employees from United, as well as from other passengers, who are upset about what happened to Dao.
Demetrio has already filed the first legal salvo in the incident on April 12.