Now that the dust has settled over the removal of a passenger from a United flight last weekend, formal inquiries about the incident have begun to focus on the folks who caused all the trouble in the first place. And, you may be surprised to hear, they were neither United Airlines employees nor police officers.
Indeed, the United pilots’ union’s United Master Executive Council on Thursday called the actions of the security officers who dragged a customer off the plane “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. 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. They are only meant to back up local law enforcement.
TRWeekly.com, an Asian travel news outlet, quotes Jeff Redding, head of safety and security at the Chicago Department of Aviation, which operates O’Hare International Airport, as saying security officers 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,” he told a group of Chicago city council members last week.
“We are going to thoroughly review every aspect of our operation,” said Chicago’s aviation chief Ginger Evans.
In New York, meanwhile, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, last week reaffirmed its existing policy, which states that its officers will not assist in removing a passenger in an overbooking situation.