United shares fall after backlash over dragged Asian passenger

By Reuters/Alana Wise   April 11, 2017 | 09:07 am PT
A passenger on board the flight said the man who was dragged off said he was being discriminated against because he was Chinese.

United Continental Holdings Inc shares fell nearly 4 percent on Tuesday after a worldwide backlash erupted against the carrier over a passenger who was dragged off one of its U.S. flights.

Video footage of a man who appeared to be Asian being snatched from his seat, his limp body pulled from the passenger cabin of United Airlines Flight 3411, sparked an outcry on Monday when the footage went viral.

On Chinese social media, the incident attracted the attention of more than 340 million users on the Weibo platform by Tuesday morning.

Much of the backlash centered on whether the man would have faced the same treatment if his ethnic background had been different.

According to Tyler Bridges, a passenger who was on board the flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, the man who was dragged off before takeoff said repeatedly that he was being discriminated against because he was Chinese.

"He said, 'I'm a doctor; I need to see patients," said Bridges, a civil engineer from Louisville who recorded much of the incident on his phone.

Many Weibo users, including comedian Joe Wong and e-commerce company JD.com founder Liu Qiangdong, called for a boycott of United.

"This makes me recall the nightmare experiences I had the three times I flew with United Airlines," Liu told his more than 3 million followers. "United's service is definitely the worst in the world!"

In the United States, social media outrage continued, with the incident trending on Twitter for the second consecutive day.

Many Twitter users promoted #NewUnitedAirlinesMotto, which was a top-trending topic on Tuesday morning. Other trending hashtags were #ConAir and #BoycottUnitedAirlines.

Twitter user Ethan @Warbot2003 wrote: "We Put The Hospital In Hospitality #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos."

Another Twitter user Jim MacD @jim_macd tweeted: "We can re-accommodate you the easy way... or the hard way #NewUnitedAirlinesMotto."

Shares of United Continental were down 3.8 percent at $68.77 in late-morning trading.

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