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The disturbing scene captured on cellphone videos by United Airlines passengers on Sunday went beyond the typical nightmares of travelers on an overbooked flight.

Police violently drag man from United plane after airline reportedly overbooked flight

An unidentified man who refused to be bumped from a plane screamed as a security officer wrestled him out of his seat and dragged him down the aisle by his arms. His glasses slid down his face, and his shirt rose above his midriff as uniformed officers followed.

At least two passengers documented the physical confrontation and the man’s anguished protests, and their videos spread rapidly online on Monday as people criticized the airline’s tactics. A security officer involved in the episode has been placed on leave, the authorities said, and the federal Transportation Department is investigating whether the airline complied with rules regarding overbooking.

The shocking scene raised questions about the common practice of overbooking and how far airlines will go to sell all of their seats. Particularly annoying, Mr. Bridges said, was that the airline was looking for extra seats for some of its employees.

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