WASHINGTON ― A pair of Democratic lawmakers are introducing legislation that aims to prevent incidents like the one that occurred in Chicago, where a passenger was violently removed from a United Airlines flight after he refused to give up his seat for an airline employee.
A viral video of 69-year-old David Dao kicking and screaming as he was dragged off an overbooked flight by police set off a national firestorm earlier this month. Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, eventually apologized for the incident, but the ensuing public relations nightmare appears to have cost him ― he will no longer become chairman of the company, as had been planned.
The bill, titled the Transparency, Improvements, and Compensation to Keep Every Ticketholder Safe Act (TICKETS), prohibits airlines from preventing passengers from flying if they have already boarded the plane, unless they pose a security or health risk. It also eliminates limits on monetary compensation that an airline may provide to ticket-holding passengers who are denied the ability to board. (Passengers on the United flight were offered up to $800 to give up their seats, but no one volunteered.)
“The horrifying incident on United Flight 3411 made clear that we need stronger consumer protections for the flying public,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who introduced the bill along with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). “This common-sense legislation will help prevent incidents like that from happening again and help ensure that travelers are treated with greater fairness and respect by the airlines industry.”
The bill also aims to increase transparency surrounding the ticketing process by requiring airlines to provide passengers with more information about how they sell fares. It further requires a federal review of controversial overselling practices and mandates that flight crews check in to desired flights 60 minutes before a plane’s departure.
The legislation, however, has so far attracted only Democratic support. Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) are listed as co-sponsors.
Republicans, however, have generally opposed the passage of additional consumer protections for airline passengers.