Chicago Asian community rallies for doctor injured in United Airlines incident

by Connie Macatula – De Leon, ABS-CBN News


CHICAGO, IL — Videos taken by passengers on Sunday’s Flight #3411 were all it took for United Airlines to spark outrage on social media.

David Dao, a 69-year old Vietnamese American doctor, was forcibly removed from the plane.

Flight #3411 leaving Chicago, Illinois to Louisville, Kentucky was reportedly overbooked, and when no passengers voluntarily gave up their seats in spite of the $1,000 incentive, United Airlines randomly selected four passengers to leave the plane.

According to the reports, all 3 passengers agreed except Dr. Dao, citing he had patients to see the following day.

Passengers from the flight said Dr. Dao was eventually allowed back on the flight — with a bloodied face.

58-year-old Rex Viejon, a former flight attendant supervisor for United Airlines, says he is embarrassed for the company.

“It is frustrating that it happened and it should never happen,” said Viejon. “They were trained to handle different situations. It’s not between life and death.”

The incident created widespread criticism not only in the Asian community, but across all demographics.

Twitter and Facebook show various opinions — from perceived ethnic bias against Asians, to United Airlines’ mishandling of the incident, to blaming the Chicago Department of Aviation — all of which have one common theme: people are upset with how the situation was handled.

In Chicago, the Asian community gathered at the O’Hare airport to show support for Dr. Dao, and to other victims as well.

“We know this is a product of a broader issue,” said Kristina Tendilla, an organizer for Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Chicago. “This is not just an Asian American issue, Vietnamese issue, or Chinese issue; this is an issue for all people. Recognize that brutalization and violence happens in many different communities.”

Although the United Airlines CEO has released his third apology since Sunday’s incident…people in the rally say it does not help improve united airlines’ reputation.

Last month, United Airlines barred two teenage girls from boarding a flight, after the gate agent said the leggings they were wearing were inappropriate.

Prior to that scandal, a story on the 94-year-old Filipina caused an uproar — when a disabled grandmother was forced to endure a painful 16-hour flight from California to Australia, after the flight attendant refused to attend to her needs in business class.

“It really victim blamed him. That was really a slap in the face for a lot of community members,” Tendilla said. “It’s something that happens often with law enforcement. When there is violence, they are very quick to dig in to someone’s past.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Dao hired a personal injury specialist and a company law specialist to handle his case. He remains in the hospital, being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The US Department of Transportation is looking into the incident to determine “whether the airline complied with the over-sales rule.”


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