Internet defends United Airlines passenger with 'troubled past' who was dragged off flight

Internet defends United Airlines passenger with 'troubled past' who was dragged off flight
Dr. David Dao
PHOTO: Twitter video screengrab

Netizens have risen in defence of the Vietnamese-American doctor who was dragged off an United Airlines flight, following reports about his 'troubled past'.

Two days after footage emerged of 69-year-old Dr David Dao being forced off a flight on Sunday (April 9), the New York Post reported that Dr Dao had been convicted of trading prescription drugs for sexual favours in 2003.

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Lousiville news outlet The Courier-Journal also reported that Dr Dao was convicted of multiple felony counts of obtaining drugs by fraud or deceit in 2004, and was suspended from practicing medicine in 2005.

Netizens responded with outrage to the reports, with many pointing out that Dr Dao's history had nothing to do with the way with which he was treated on the flight.

Others questioned the news agencies' intent and purpose in reporting on Dr Dao's past, and wondered if it was yet another example of an increasingly extensive 'victim-blaming' culture.

Some netizens also said that it could possibly be a smear campaign, as there was a discrepancy between Dr Dao's name on the flight passenger list - David Thanh Duc Dao - and the Dr Dao who was named on the court documents - David Anh Duy Dao.

Following public backlash, United Airlines issued an official apology for the incident and promised a thorough review of the airline's practices.

US federal rules dictate that a carrier must first check whether any passenger is willing to voluntarily give up a seat before bumping anybody off, reported CNBC. Compensation is offered to passengers who are bumped off involuntarily.

Due to the "contract of carriage" that is agreed to upon ticket purchase, the airline also reserves the right to bump any passenger off the plane, and the passenger is obliged to comply. It is hence legal for the airline to call in law enforcement if a passenger fails to comply with the flight crew's request, Mashable reported.

Reuters earlier reported that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) said it was reviewing whether United complied with overbook rules that require airlines to set guidelines on how passengers are denied boarding if they do not volunteer to give up their seats.

"While it is legal for airlines to involuntarily bump passengers from an oversold flight when there are not enough volunteers, it is the airline's responsibility to determine its own fair boarding priorities," a DOT spokesperson said in a statement.

Read also: Fury in Vietnam over United Airlines passenger dragged from plane

Read also: Does he deserve it? United CEO won top communicator award before fiasco

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