Video of the shocking incident was initially shared on Facebook by passenger Viorica Hagagg before it was ultimately taken down from the social media platform. The footage has since resurfaced on various platforms.
Hagagg’s initial post indicated that the violent altercation between airport officials and passengers unfolded after a traveler seated in the plane’s emergency exit aisle was asked to relocate, since she didn’t speak English or Romanian. According to the airline, individuals seated in this particular aisle need to speak one of those languages in order to aid officials in the case of an emergency.
Ultimately the confusion between the passenger and plane officials led to security personnel being called aboard, then quickly escalated to the traveler’s husband being forcibly removed. The chaotic video shows several children crying as others attempt to convince officials to deescalate the situation.
At one point in the recording, a security official attempts prevent Hagagg from recording the scene, to no avail. After the man is booted from the plane, video shows passengers criticizing the security officers’ actions.
Although officials were later able to relocate the female traveler who was initially asked to sit elsewhere, the decision was eventually made to remove her and her child, since she spit on one of the cabin crew during the altercation, according to Hagagg.
In a statement posted to Facebook, the airline further explained that the passenger was asked to move because she was not sitting in her assigned place and the family placed personal bags under the seat, which is against the rules.
Hagagg’s since-deleted Facebook post noted that the entire plane was emptied and didn’t depart to Cairo, Egypt, for several hours. It’s unclear if the family at the center of the incident was allowed to rebook their flight to Cairo on the same airline.
United Airlines experienced a similar incident in April 2017 when passenger David Dao was forcibly removed from a plane as a result of the flight being overbooked. Video of the 2017 altercation shows Dao’s face bleeding as security personnel at Chicago O’Hare International Airport drag him from the plane. Dao later reached a settlement with the airline.