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United to Reimburse All Passengers on Flight That Caused Uproar

Published on .

United Continental Holdings will compensate all passengers for the cost of the flight in which a man was forcibly removed by security officers as it continues to try to resolve the embarrassing incident.

Megan McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the airline, declined to say Wednesday if the payment would be in cash, frequent-flier miles or other forms. Video posted to Facebook and Twitter showed the passenger, David Dao, as he was dragged out of his seat and down the aisle of the plane after refusing to give up his seat.

The extraordinary move comes following an extraordinary event. Rarely has an airline -- or any company -- faced the kind of global condemnation that has buffeted United over the last several days. After the blunder of the initial incident was compounded by a series of botched public responses, the Chicago-based carrier is stepping up the effort to get back in consumers' good graces.

CEO Oscar Munoz's initial response made the company a punch line on social media as far away as China. He said United had to "re-accommodate'' the man, who was bloodied in the encounter with security officials. In a subsequent letter to employees, the CEO called the customer "disruptive'' and "belligerent.''

It wasn't until Tuesday that Mr. Munoz was more contrite.

"I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard," he said. "No one should ever be mistreated this way."

Mr. Dao was treated in a Chicago hospital for his injuries, according to a statement from lawyers who said they represent him. The lawyers sought a court order Wednesday in Chicago to preserve evidence, including surveillance videos, crew lists and other information, that could be used in litigation. A lawsuit hasn't been filed.

-- Bloomberg News

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