Video of police officers dragging a passenger from an overbooked United Airlines flight has sparked uproar on social media.
As the flight waited to depart, officers could be seen grabbing the screaming man from a window seat, pulling him across the armrest and dragging him down the aisle by his arms.
United was trying to make room for four employees of a partner airline on the Sunday evening flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky.
Other passengers on Flight 3411 are heard saying, “Please, my God,” “What are you doing?” “This is wrong,” “Look at what you did to him” and “Busted his lip”.
Passenger Audra Bridges posted the video on Facebook, and it has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, and triggered strong criticism of United.
Her husband, Tyler Bridges, said United offered 400 dollar (£322) and then 800 dollar vouchers and a hotel stay for volunteers to give up their seats.
When no-one volunteered, a United manager came on the plane and announced that passengers would be chosen at random.
“We almost felt like we were being taken hostage,” Tyler Bridges said. “We were stuck there. You can’t do anything as a traveller. You’re relying on the airline.”
When airline employees named four customers who had to leave the plane, three of them did so. The fourth person refused to move, and police were called, United spokesman Charlie Hobart said.
“We followed the right procedures,” Mr Hobart said. “That plane had to depart. We wanted to get our customers to their destinations.”
Oscar Munoz, chief executive of United Airlines’ parent company, described the event as “upsetting” and apologised for “having to re-accommodate these customers”.
United CEO response to United Express Flight 3411. pic.twitter.com/rF5gNIvVd0
— United Airlines (@united) April 10, 2017
He said the airline was conducting a review and reaching out to the passenger to “further address and resolve this situation.”
One officer involved has been placed on leave, the Chicago Aviation Department said.
The passenger told the manager that he was a doctor who needed to see patients in the morning, Mr Bridges said.
After the passenger was removed, the four airline employees boarded the plane.
Mr Hobart said the employees worked for Republic Airline, which United hires to operate United Express flights, and needed to get to Kentucky or their later flights would be cancelled for lack of crew members.
A few minutes after the employees boarded, the man who was removed returned, looking dazed and saying he had to get home, Mr Bridges said.
In a video, the man can be seen standing in the aisle near what appears to be the rear of the aircraft. Blood is on his mouth, chin and cheek as he said: “I want to go home.”
Officers followed him to the back of the plane. Another man travelling with school students stood up at that point and said they were getting off the plane, Mr Bridges said.
About half of the passengers followed before United told everyone to get off, he said.
The man who was originally dragged down the aisle was removed from the plane again, and United employees made an announcement saying they had to “tidy up” the aircraft, Mr Bridges said.
His wife told him she saw the man taken away on a stretcher, he said.
After a three-hour delay the flight took off without the man aboard, Mr Bridges said.
Airlines are allowed to sell more tickets than there are seats on the plane, and they routinely overbook flights because some people do not show up.