Like all airlines, United has a very specific (and lengthy!) contract for carriage outlining the contractual relationship between the airline and the passenger. It includes a familiar set of provisions for when a passenger may be denied boarding (Rule 25: “Denied Boarding Compensation”).
When a flight is oversold, UA can deny boarding to some passengers, who then receive compensation under specific guidelines. However, Dao was not denied boarding. He was granted boarding and then involuntarily removed from the airplane. What does the contract say about that?
It turns out that the contract has a specific rule regarding “Refusal of Transport” (Rule 21), which lays out the conditions under which a passenger can be removed and refused transport on the aircraft. This includes situations where passengers act in a “disorderly, offensive, abusive, or violent” manner, refuse to comply with the smoking policy, are barefoot or “not properly clothed,” as well as many other situations.
There is absolutely no provision for deplaning a seated passenger because the flight is oversold.
(Excerpt) Read more at newsweek.com ...