CBS News Logo United Airlines pilots “infuriated” by “grossly inappropriate” dragging of passenger

CHICAGO -- United Airlines pilots want it known that they had nothing to do with the incident in which a passenger was violently dragged off a United Express plane in Chicago. In a statement, the pilots union says that the forcible removal of Dr. David Dao by O’Hare International Airport security officials happened Sunday night on a United Express carrier that is “separately owned and operated by Republic Airline.” The union says United pilots were not flying the jet and that the four who were given the seats of Dao and three other passengers who were ordered off the plane work for Republic, not United. They say they are “infuriated” by what happened and blamed the debacle on the “grossly inappropriate” actions of the security officers. “This violent incident should never have happened and was a result of gross excessive force by Chicago Department of Aviation personnel,” the union said.  Dao suffered a broken nose and concussion during the incident and spent several days in the hospital, his attorney Thomas Demetrio said Thursday. He added that Dao is likely to pursue legal action against the airline. United CEO Oscar Munoz has apologized to Dao and the other passengers on the aircraft.   Continue Reading

United Airlines Found Woman’s Engagement Ring, Had Pilot Return It By Hand

A San Francisco woman thanked a United Airlines pilot for returning her engagement ring, which she lost during her travel last week somewhere between New York City and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Brit Morin said she was given the ring by a gate agent and a pilot after they found it on the airplane, ABC 7 News reported. Morin took to Twitter to express her gratitude toward the gate agent and the pilot. “I have a newfound faith in humanity and airlines,” Morin said in her tweet. She also tweeted a picture of her ring along with a caption that read: “I lost my wedding/engagement rings last week somewhere between New York and Jackson Hole. A @United gate agent found it, put it in a safe, and then gave it to a pilot to HAND DELIVER it back to me in SF.” United Airlines immediately replied to Morin’s tweet, thanking her for sharing her story. They also said it made their day. United Airlines was recently in the news, but for a different reason. The airline employees at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey declined a passenger’s request for traveling on a flight with her emotional support peacock. The woman, whose identity was withheld, tried to convince the airline employees she required her peacock aboard the flight and even offered to buy a separate ticket for the animal, but the airline declined all her requests. United Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at San Francisco International Airport, July 8, 2015. Photo: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan “This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size. We explained this to the customers on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport,” United said in a statement. United Airlines on its website states, "Pursuant to the Department of Transportation (DOT) guidance for the carriage of service animals, United requires a passenger with a qualified disability traveling with a Continue Reading

United Airlines Doubles Down on Its Dubious Growth Strategy

Over the past decade, U.S. legacy carriers United Continental (NYSE: UAL), Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL), and American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL) have gone from being perennial money losers to reliable profit machines. A shared commitment to keeping capacity in check was critical to the industry's renaissance. However, under its new management team, United Continental has thrown that playbook out the window. After boosting capacity 3.5% in 2017 -- well ahead of GDP growth -- United plans to grow even faster over the next three years. This growth plan is already causing United's pre-tax margin to deteriorate. In the long run, the damage could be even worse if United's aggressive growth in smaller cities triggers a fare war with American and Delta. The crux of United's strategy The core insights behind United Continental's growth strategy are relatively straightforward. The profitability of a hub-and-spoke airline depends significantly on how many connecting itinerary options it can provide. This means that having large hubs -- and building efficient schedules to maximize the number of available connections -- is critical to success. United Continental wants to boost the productivity of its hubs. Image source: United Airlines. Delta Air Lines' massive hub in Atlanta is the ideal example of how a hub should work. Delta operates roughly 1,000 peak-day departures there, serving more than 200 destinations. No matter where you need to go, there's a good chance you can get there with a connection through Atlanta. United Airlines' mid-continent hubs in Chicago, Denver, and Houston are undersized, by comparison. United operates just 545 daily departures in Chicago, its largest hub. United's growth strategy calls for adding flights at all three mid-continent hubs -- and to a lesser extent, at its coastal hubs. The focus will be on flying to more small cities, where fares tend to be higher due to minimal competition from budget carriers. However, this plan is far Continue Reading

Rosa Parks’ niece rejects comparison between civil right icon and Dr. David Dao, who was dragged off United Airlines flight

There's no comparison. The man who was violently pulled off a United Airlines flight is not the "Asian version of Rosa Parks," the late civil rights icon's niece says. Urana McCauley told TMZ that comparisons between Parks, once called the "mother of the freedom movement," and Dr. David Dao have no merit. "I think that what Dr. Dao is going to do is probably going to change the policy of United Airlines," she told the gossip website. "Actually what my aunt did was change history." The comparisons to the civil rights legend surfaced Thursday after Dao's lawyer mentioned during a televised press conference that an email he received described the doctor as an "Asian version of Rosa Parks." Thomas Demetrio quickly discounted the comparison, saying race was not likely a factor in the incident which left Dr. Dao bloodied and injured. Many people concurred on social media, and McCauley was emphatic when asked by TMZ what she thought about it. "Unfortunately what happened to Dr. Dao was definitely wrong and was definitely a mistreatment of him," she said. "But as someone who is her niece and grew up with Rosa Parks, and knowing her on a personal level, knowing what she endured and what black people in this country endured at that time, I feel you cannot compare the two." United Airlines pilots tried to distance themselves from the scandal on Friday, saying they want it known that they had nothing to do with the Chicago incident. In a statement, the pilots union says that the forcible removal of Dr. Dao by O'Hare International Airport security officials happened Sunday night on a United Express carrier that is "separately owned and operated by Republic Airline." The union says United pilots were not flying the jet and that the four who were given the seats of Dao and three other passengers who were ordered off the plane work for Republic, not United. Parks made history by refusing Continue Reading

Two United Airlines pilots suspected of being drunk arrested in Scotland — delaying flight to Newark by 10 hours

Scottish cops cuffed two drunken United Airlines pilots before the duo took off with 141 passengers bound for Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday, police said. The Police Service of Scotland said it arrested the flyboys at Glasgow Airport, sparking a whopping 10-hour delay for passengers as the airline called in their replaces. The pilots were identified as Carlos Licona, 45, and Paul (Brady) Grebenc, 35, a police source told the Daily News. Licona and Grebenc will be arraigned in the Glasgow suburb of Paisley on Monday for charges connected to Britain's transport safety laws. "The two pilots have been removed from service and their flying duties," United spokeswoman Erin Benson said. "We are cooperating with the authorities and will conduct our own investigation as well. The safety of our customers and crew is our highest priority." Both men have ties to the U.S. military and have been with United Airlines for at least a year, according to their LinkedIn profiles. Grebenc, who goes by Brady on social media, joined the airline in April 2015 from the Air Force Reserve while Licona joined United in Jan. 2014. after a 10-year stint with Colgan Air. Licona has been with the U.S. Air National Guard since 1988, according to his Linkedin. Saturday's arrests come barely a month after two Canadian pilots of an Air Transat plane were arrested at Glasgow Airport and charged with trying to fly while intoxicated.  With News Wire Services Continue Reading

United Airlines pilot allegedly ran ‘massive’ brothel ring around Houston

This pilot sure got around. A United Airlines pilot allegedly ran a “massive” ring of brothels around Houston, sometimes with up to 10 women in each spot, prosecutors said Thursday. “It's the largest operation that I've ever worked on,” Assistant Harris County District Attorney Lester Blizzard told the Houston Chronicle. Bruce Wayne Wallis, 51, allegedly ran about a half-dozen brothels in apartments and office buildings around the city, with six to 10 women working in each one. The women advertised his sex business online and had to pay Wallis $400 a week, prosecutors said. The accused pimping pilot has been charged with aggravated promotion of prostitution and engaging in criminal activity. Nineteen women were also arrested for prostitution, and one woman, 37-year-old Tracie Rebekah Tanner, was charged with aggravated promotion of prostitution, according to Click2Houston. Bruce Wayne Wallis allegedly ran brothels out of several Houston locations, including the two office buildings pictured. Tanner’s relationship to Wallis is unclear. The brothel busts came after police raided more than 20 locations through the city, officials said. Records indicate Wallis lives in Kingwood, a Houston suburb, and earned his pilot’s license more than 15 years ago. United said it has “removed Mr. Wallis from his flying duties.” Continue Reading

WATCH: Drunken passenger punches United Airlines pilot

That’s not how you earn frequent flyer miles. A Philadelphia man instead won a one-way ticket to jail after, police say, he assaulted his plane’s pilot following a drunken rant during a flight delay. The wild antics of Donald Gee, 53, were all caught on camera by a fellow passenger at the Washington, D.C., area’s Dulles International Airport who was waiting for a United Airlines flight to Philadelphia. His profane, slurred rant got him kicked off his flight and booked into the Loudoun County jail on assault and public intoxication charges. As the video begins, the large, clearly intoxicated Gee can be seen berating the pilot, complaining about a flight delay. The pilot eventually snaps after Gee threatens to punch him in the face. “You ain’t getting on an airplane tonight!” the pilot tells him. But Gee, slurring his words and swaying, can’t resist: “F--- you! Yeah, well you pay for my hotel!” The pilot can already tell where this confrontation is going, even before a punch is thrown: “You’re going to wind up in a cell, you fat a--!” he tells the unruly passenger, who continues to curse out the air captain. “Too bad TSA’s here cause I’d punch your f------ lights out,” the passenger bellows. The pilot is doubtful — until Gee gets out of his seat and stumbles towards the pilot, delivering an open-handed sucker punch to the surprised pilot’s head. The waiting passengers gasp, and the pilot’s colleague helps tackle the obnoxious drunk, who is restrained until police arrive. Gee continues to mumble incoherently until he’s dragged away. “What the hell are you arresting me for?” he says in disbelief. “I am drunk, but that pilot is a f------ c---.” Gee was held in lieu of a $2,500 bond after his June 18 arrest, WJLA-TV reported. The long-delayed flight was Continue Reading

London arrest of United Airlines pilot is just latest in pilot drinking episodes

DALLAS - The arrest of a United Airlines pilot this week for allegedly drinking too much before entering the cockpit is the latest in a series of incidents involving airline pilots and alcohol. The United pilot, Erwin Vermont Washington, was about to take off from London's Heathrow Airport for Chicago with 124 passengers on board. Instead, he was removed from the aircraft, suspended by his airline and now faces up to two years in a U.K. prison if convicted on criminal charges. He is the third U.S. pilot arrested in 13 months on alcohol-related charges. Monday's arrest raises more questions about what goes on in airplane cockpits. It follows the distracted flying incident in the U.S. last month, where Northwest Airlines pilots overshot Minneapolis by more than 100 miles because, they said, they were using their laptop computers. In May an American Airlines pilot was arrested at Heathrow and charged with being under the influence of alcohol. Another United pilot was arrested on the same charge in October 2008. And a Southwest Airlines pilot was suspended in January after allegedly showing up for his flight in Ohio reeking of alcohol. He's back on duty. In 2008, 13 pilots violated the Federal Aviation Administration's alcohol-related rules. Pilots can't fly if they have a blood-alcohol level of 0.04 percent or higher, half the legal driving limit in most states. They are prohibited from drinking any alcohol in the eight hours before reporting for work, a provision known in the profession as the "bottle-to-throttle" rule. British law is even stricter with a 0.02 percent limit. That level can be reached with about one regular beer. The number of incidents involving alcohol is tiny compared with the thousands of flights each day around the world. But when it happens it's usually up to passengers or crew members to spot a pilot who isn't fit to fly. The FAA checks pilots' backgrounds for alcohol-related offenses such as drunk driving, But Barry Sweedler, a Continue Reading

No drinking and flying: United Airlines pilot charged with being over alcohol limit

LONDON - A United Airlines pilot who was pulled from his trans-Atlantic flight to Chicago shortly before takeoff has been charged with having too much alcohol in his system, British police said Tuesday. Scotland Yard said that 51-year-old Erwin Vermont Washington, of Lakewood, Colorado, was arrested after officers were called to United Airlines Flight 949, which was already full of passengers and due to leave London's Heathrow Airport just after noon on Monday. BAA, Heathrow's operator, said the plane had been due to leave imminently. A BAA spokesman quoted by Britain's Press Association news agency added that the pilot had been reported to authorities by another member of United's staff. BAA did not immediately return a call from the AP seeking comment late Tuesday. It was not immediately clear how much alcohol Washington was accused of having consumed. Under British law, pilots are forbidden from having any more than 20 micrograms of alcohol for each 100 milliliters of blood in their system, or .02 percent. For most average-sized men, that is the equivalent of having just had about half a glass of regular strength beer. Scotland Yard said that Washington, who has been released on bail, would have to appear at a court in northwest London on Nov. 20. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison, a fine, or both. United Airlines spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said Washington, who she did not identify by name, has been removed from service pending an investigation. She said her airline had strict rules on alcohol "and we have no tolerance for violation of this well-established policy." She declined to say how long Washington had worked for the airline. McCarthy said that the flight was canceled and that the plane's 124 passengers were put on other flights. Monday's incident bears a strong resemblance to the arrest in May at Heathrow of an American Airlines pilot - also scheduled to fly a plane to Chicago - after he failed a breath test. Airport Continue Reading

United Airlines pilot Erwin Washington admits trying to fly while 3 times over alcohol limit

A United Airlines pilot faces two years in jail after admitting he tried to fly a trans-Atlantic passenger jet while three times over the legal alcohol limit, according to a report posted on London's Daily Mail.51-year-old Erwin Vermont Washington, of Colorado, was arrested in November at Heathrow Airport by British authorities after a fellow crew member reported smelling booze on his breath.  The Chicago-bound flight's takeoff was 'imminent' when he was busted, the newspaper reports. 124 passengers and 11 crew were on board.Prosecutors told Uxbridge Magistrates Court of a frantic race through Heathrow's Terminal 1 to nab the sauced flyboy.After failing the breathalyzer, Washington reportedly responded "Okay, fine."Washington blew 31 micrograms of booze per 100 milliliters of breath, according the Daily Mail.  The legal limit for a pilot is 9 micrograms.A subsequent blood test revealed he had 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.The legal limit for driving an automobile is 80 milligrams.  The limit for flying is 20.The judges declined to sentence him, saying they couldn't dole out a stiff enough punishment. The harshest sentence available to them is an $8000 fine."We consider our sentencing powers in this court to be insufficient," chief magistrate Geoff Edwards said.The Air Force Academy graduate and ex-B52 gunner will be sentenced February 5 at Isle worth Crown Court in London, where, in addition to a 2-year jail sentence, he faces a fine.    Join the Conversation: Continue Reading