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This Former Airline CEO Said The United Passenger Dragged Off A Flight Was Being "Immature"

CNBC contributor Gordon Bethune said the passenger acted "like a child."

Posted on April 10, 2017, at 12:41 p.m. ET

A former airline executive said the passenger who was forcibly removed from an overbooked United flight was being "immature" and acting "like a child."


Gordon Bethune, the former CEO of Continental Airlines, appeared on CNBC's Squawk On The Street on Monday to talk about videos of law enforcement officers dragging a man off a plane after he refused to voluntarily leave the overbooked flight.

According to other passengers, the man was a doctor who said he couldn't miss the flight because he had to see patients the next day. Security guards then forcibly removed him from his seat and dragged his limp body down the aisle.

Bethune headed Continental Airlines for a decade starting in 1994. In 2010, Continental completed a $3 billion merger with United. Bethune is currently a CNBC contributor.

Bethune defended the staff and appeared to blame the passenger for not dealing with the situation better.


“Certainly, it’s a very emotional scene," he said. "It doesn’t have to have that kind of immature reaction when you’re asked to leave the plane. You should handle it in a different way.”

“The man obviously didn’t want to go, like a child that didn’t want to leave.”

Bethune said United staff and the security officers were simply following protocol for overbooked flights and acted appropriately.

"They try to do a professional job. They’re very professional people," he said. "But not everybody on the plane is professional and they can create a scene if they want to.”

Many people who caught the interview were outraged at Bethune's reaction.

WTF?? @GordonBethune on @msnbc callously defending @united assaulting passenger seated on plane..


Gordon Bethune former CEO Continental just blamed @United incident on immaturity of passenger. Gobsmacked.

"You don't want Gordon Bethune running your PR dept.," this person said.

@CNBC @united you don't want Gordon Bethune running your PR dept., he blames it all on the passenger. Wow! SMH!!

Others suggested he was out of touch with the industry.

"In my day passengers knew how to take a beating"

Former @United CEO Gordon Bethune on CNBC right now calling the pasenger who was manhandled, "immature". GB wouldn't last a day as CEO today

And some expressed anger at the CNBC hosts for not pushing back on Bethune's comments.

@carlquintanilla your interview with Gordon "Screw the Passanger" Bethune was a Joke. Next time give him shoulder…

Watch the full interview on the CNBC website.

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