“He was a really sweet man,” John Klaassen, a teacher who was travelling on a school trip in Chicago, told CNN’s Don Lemon in an interview April 10.
Klaassen told Lemon that the 69-year-old man, who has not been identified, chatted with some of his students before being told his seat was given to an airline worker.
At that point, the man became inconsolable and repeatedly refused to leave. He was forcibly removed by police and then taken to the hospital with injuries from the confrontation.
The airline has since apologised.
“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United,” CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement. “I apologise for having to re-accommodate these customers.”