Doctor dragged off United flight breaks his silence two years later

David Dao

David Dao

David Dao, the Kentucky doctor who was unceremoniously - and very literally - dragged off a United Airlines flight on April 9, 2017, is speaking out about the viral incident for the first time in two years.

The entire ordeal started after the flight Dao was on from Chicago O'Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky was overbooked.

Dao said he stood his ground and refused to get off the plane because he felt he was being discriminated against and was trying to get back to Kentucky to oversee the opening of a clinic he founded for US veterans. "I don't know, I just cried". He was put on suicide watch by hospital staff and later spent months learning to walk again, he said.

According to Dao, he had no idea that his refusal to give up the seat he had paid for would result in physical violence against him.

Dao told Robach that he was heading home that day to open a free clinic for U.S. veterans the next day as a way to express his gratitude to the U.S. Navy.

Dao said he feels no animosity towards the security officers, saying "they have a job to do".

Dao said that he ended up having to remain at his house for months due to the massive amount of scrutiny and attention he received following the incident. He doesn't remember anything after he bumped his head a low ceiling.

'After that, to be honest, I don't know what happened, ' he said. Until I wake up in the hospital and they try to fix me.

Immediately after the incident, United had accused the doctor and his wife of refusing to give up their seats to make way for airline employees who needed to fly.

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In a video shot by two passengers sitting behind Dao, he repeatedly refused to get off the flight, telling officers he was a physician and had to work in the morning.

"Flight 3411 was a defining moment for United Airlines and it is our responsibility to make sure we as a company and all of our 90,000 employees continue to learn from that experience", the airline said in a statement to NBC News Tuesday.

Munoz also praised his staff for going "above and beyond".

Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, said he felt "shame" when he saw the video.

The CEO described how flight crews had offered up to $1,000 in compensation for anyone willing to catch the next flight before approaching the passenger to "explain apologetically" that he was being denied boarding.

Dao is a father of five and a grandfather who specializes in internal medicine. It ultimately led to a financial settlement with United and the firing of two Chicago aviation security officers, and spurred airlines to change some ways they do business.

"While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right", he said, Daily Mail reported.

Social media erupted immediately when the email became public, labeling Munoz and United "tone deaf" and "condescending".

Dao was offered an undisclosed settlement weeks after the incident. "The changes we have implemented since that incident better serve our customers and further empower our employees", the spokesman said. His wife is a pediatrician and four of their five children are doctors. A number of USA media outlets reported Dao was previously convicted of obtaining drugs by fraud or deceit in 2004.

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