• Sara Michalowicz

What We Know About United Flight 3411 and the Doctor

Photo courtesy of the Independent.

The Kentucky doctor, David Dao, 69, who was aggressively dragged off the United Airlines plane on April 9, remained hospitalized Tuesday in Chicago where he was being treated for his injuries.

Video footage, posted online at the time of the incident, shows Dao being forcibly removed from United Airlines Flight 3411 when he did not want to give up his seat to accommodate the off-duty crew. Dao explained that he was a doctor and needed to get to Louisville, Kentucky to see patients Monday morning.

Photo courtesy of Bloomberg.

Since the incident occurred, additional information has surfaced that supports that this isn’t Dao’s first brush with law enforcement. ABC7 Chicago’s I-Team learned that Kentucky licensing officials only allow Dao to see his patients once a week, due to a series of criminal and regulatory actions against him in the past 14 years.

Dao held a private practice in rural Kentucky for 17 years until his arrest in 2003. He was charged with 98 counts of illegally prescribing and trafficking prescription painkillers, per ABC7 Chicago. Dao also tested positive for pain meds and had his hospital privileges suspended.

In 2004, Dao was convicted by a jury in Jefferson County, Kentucky on six felony counts and sentenced to five years supervised probation. He has been working toward reinstatement of his medical license since serving time for his felonies.

Dao underwent a psychological evaluation in 2009, where it was found that he maintained "a pattern of deception...inconsistent with the level of accountability necessary for a practicing physician.” By 2015, the medical board recommended the once-a-week patient privileges when they determined that Dao was “emotionally free” of psychological turmoil.


United Airlines unintentionally overbooked Flight 3411 from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky on Sunday, April 9, leaving no additional seats on the plane for the off-duty crew. After announcing the situation to the passengers and seeking volunteers to give up their seats, with a $400 voucher, an overnight hotel stay in Chicago and later a $800 voucher as incentive, no one budged.

When no volunteers came forward, the United manager boarded the plane to announce that passengers would be chosen at random to vacate their seats to make the necessary room for the crew. Dao was one of those passengers chosen but did not want to give up his seat.

Video footage surfaced online showing Dao forcibly removed from his seat, by a Chicago Department of Aviation officer, and subsequently dragged down the aisle by his arms. Shortly thereafter, Dao managed to get back on the plane and was seen running down the aisle with blood running down his face. He was then removed again my police after expressing fear of being harmed further.

After two days of falling stock prices, conflicting explanations and worldwide outrage, United Airlines acknowledged the incident and announced an internal investigation is underway.

United Chief Executive Oscar Munoz stated, “I continue to be disturbed by what happened. I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way,” he added, “We are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again.”

Munoz promised a public report by April 30 on a review into United Airline’s partnerships with law enforcement and its policies on giving seats to employees and overbooking situations.

In addition, the Chicago Department of Aviation issued a statement, late Monday, regarding the security officer involved in the incident:

“The incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department. The officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation.”

Screenshot via Twitter.

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