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Airport security officials who hauled United Airlines passenger off overbooked flight 'shouldn't have been on plane'

Mirror logo Mirror 14/04/2017 Jamie Bullen
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Airport officials who sparked fury by hauling a United Airlines passenger off an overbooked flight should not have even boarded the plane, a security chief has claimed.

Authorities in Chicago are investigating why three officers, now placed on administrative leave, were on the plane before David Dao, 69, was dragged off the flight.

The officers, who are unarmed and meant to back up local police, were called by airline employees after the doctor refused to give up his seat for crew that needed to be repositioned for other flights.

The resulting altercation left Dao with a broken nose, concussion and needing reconstructive surgery, according to his lawyers, who have said he is likely to sue.

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Jeff Redding, who is in charge of safety and security at the Chicago Department of Aviation, which operates O'Hare International Airport, said airport security are not supposed to respond to such calls.

"If it is a customer service-related incident, then you don't need to board the plane at all," Redding told a group of Chicago city council members on Thursday.

The official however could not immediately say how his officers were instructed about the use of force.

Dr David Dao's lawyer hammers United Airlines arguing passengers 'should not be treated like cattle

The agency has yet to comment.

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Once the officers were on the plane, they bungled the situation, according to United Airlines' pilots' union.

The United Master Executive Council on Thursday accused the security officers of actions that were "grossly inappropriate."

"For reasons unknown to us, instead of trained Chicago Police Department officers being dispatched to the scene, Chicago Department of Aviation personnel responded," the union said.

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The airport security officers, while required to meet minimum police standards and go through academy training, are not in fact police, and cannot carry guns or arrest people.

"We are going to thoroughly review every aspect of our operation," said Chicago's aviation chief Ginger Evans.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, responsible for the major airports in the New York area, sent out a new directive Friday noting that their officers would not assist in removing a passenger in an overbooking situation.

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