Oscar Munoz commended his staff and claimed they went “above and beyond” for the company, within a private email seen by the Mail.
While Mr Munoz insisted he was “upset” to see the man violently removed, he said facts are still evolving to understand why he “defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did”.
But his public apology greatly differed to his private comments after the aviation department said they did not condone the incident.
The still unidentified victim – who claimed to be a doctor and said he needed to see patients the next morning – was one of four passengers selected by United to leave the 5.40pm flight from O'Hare to Louisville, Kentucky.
Mr Munoz publicly said: “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologise for having to re-accommodate these customers.
United Airlines CEO applauds his staff for dealing with the disruptive passenger
“Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened.
“We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”
The aviation department released a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times which read: “The incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department.
Munoz said his staff went above and beyond for the company
“That officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation.”
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A different passenger told the Washington Post that the man was removed because he was Chinese.
The same passenger went on to tell the newspaper a United official walked onto the plane during the incident and said the plane would not be taking off until four passengers disembarked so the employees could fit on.
He said the official announced: “We have United employees that need to fly to Louisville tonight. This flight’s not leaving until four people get off.
“That rubbed some people the wrong way.”
Within the private letter, the CEO described how flight crews had offered up to $1,000 in compensation.