United Airlines clarifies: Flight that sparked controversy was not overbooked

United Airlines said Tuesday that the flight that placed it at a center of a firestorm following a viral clip of a passenger being dragged off of one of its planes to make room for its employees was never overbooked.

Jonathan Guerin, a spokesman for the airline, clarified earlier reports that claimed the plane was overbooked, telling USA TODAY that each of the 70 seats on Flight 3411 were filled by passengers. He made a point to clarify that the four passengers, including Dr. David Dao of Kentucky, had to be removed to make room for four of its employees needed in Louisville, Kentucky, for a "downline connection" the next day.

Three of the four passengers, all of whom had been selected at random, left the plane peacefully. Dao refused to.

RELATED: People react to United Airlines kicking a passenger off a flight

People react to United Airlines kicking a passenger off a flight
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People react to United Airlines kicking a passenger off a flight
Pepsi: We are the most hated company right now. 😓 United Airlines: 1 sec - Hold my Pepsi. #PEPSI #unitedAIRLINES
Not so friendly skies huh @united ? Makes me sick now how you treat customers. I hope he sues hard. #unitedairlines https://t.co/D13SDvHfLq
You want passengers to give up their seats because you have piss poor planning & then beat them up? Shame on you. @united #unitedAIRLINES
Apparently @united 's inability to coordinate a flight makes violent assault against customers ok. Never flying #UnitedAirlines again
NEVER flying @united ever again! Horrific, brutal, intolerable treatment of passenger, + tone-deaf "apology" from CEO. #UnitedAirlines
Dear United Airlines: People have smart phones.
Perhaps @MerriamWebster can help #United Airlines with the definition of "volunteer"
United Airlines to United Airlines: "I see your legging-gate, and I raise you a passenger beating" #UnitedAirlines #United #flight3411
Look on the bright side, United Airlines. After this incident, you'll never have to worry about a flight being overbooked again.
You thought United Airlines was tough on folks who wear leggings. Just wait to see what they do to folks in sweat p… https://t.co/x5Nzp7gcn1
Poor planning on your part doesn't constitute an emergency on ours. Fly Southwest. Fly Delta. Hell, fly Spirit. Not #UnitedAirlines

"They were considered 'must-ride' passengers," Guerin said in statement.

United Airlines has weathered waves of outrage as it has scrambled to address footage showing police officers forcibly dragging a passenger off a flight.

CEO Oscar Munoz sent a letter to airline employees Monday blaming the passenger for being "disruptive and belligerent" following his forced removal from a plane in Chicago, which failed to appease most customers and was highly critiqued by public relation analysts.

SEE ALSO: Dark details emerge on United Airlines doctor's criminal past

Munoz later released another statement Tuesday apologizing for the horrific event and stated that "no one should ever be mistreated this way."

The company saw its value plunge more than $800 million by midday Tuesday in the wake of the incident.

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