United’s unfriendly skies prompt response from SF supe


After a passenger was dragged off a flight on Sunday at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport on a United Airlines flight bound for Lousiville, Kentucky, a San Francisco supervisor wants to make sure a similar incident never unfolds at The City’s airport.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy requested the city attorney’s office to start drafting legislation that would prevent San Francisco police from getting involved in the removal of passengers on overbooked flights at the request of airlines at the San Francisco International Airport.

Sheehy said:

“I don’t think these incidents where people are pulled off planes are appropriate and I don’t think our police department should be cooperating with that.”

On Tuesday, the fallout from the incident involving the removal of a United Airlines passenger continued. Dr. David Dao was forcibly removed off the plane from his seat by officers with the Chicago Department of Aviation on Sunday.

Videos surfaced online from passengers onboard the flight, which have now been seen by hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide.

Dao had refused to disembark the plane as the flight crew had chosen Dao and three other passengers for removal off the flight to make room for four United crew members who needed to get to Louisville for their next assignments.

CEO Oscar Munoz of United Airlines made a statement on Monday that did not go over well with airline customers. Social media users also did not react well with his initial statement:

On Tuesday, Munoz made a statement apologizing for the incident:

Despite the apology, United customers on Twitter said they would not fly with the airline anymore and some customers have cut up their frequent flier and credit cards.

The San Francisco Police Department is the primary law enforcement department that oversees safety and security for SFO.

Doug Yakel, a spokesperson for SFO, told SFBay in an email statement how SFPD would respond to incidents onboard flights at the airport:

“SFPD officers would evaluate each situation based on the facts, and work to resolve any disputes with safety as the top priority.”

Yakel added:

“The majority of these are resolved with cooperation from all parties. If circumstances escalated to the level where an airline requested that a passenger be removed for behavior that threatens the safety of the flight, an airline representative (i.e. pilot or flight crew) would need to request a citizens’ arrest.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay and covers transportation and City Hall. He has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Jerold is a San Francisco native and frequently takes public transit everywhere he goes. Follow Jerold on Twitter @jerold_chinn. Email tips to

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