Local lawmakers call for changes after United Airlines incident

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 11:36AM
Local lawmakers call for changes. Annie McCormick reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on April 11.


PHILADELPHIA - Outrage continues over the video of a United Airlines customer dragged out of his seat screaming and left injured and bloody.

Some travelers told Action News say it's all people were talking about at Philadelphia International Airport on Tuesday.

Barbara Schlatter of Napa Valley California said, "As soon as we sat down, 'Did you see the United thing?' I said, 'Yes we did.' We both agreed it's outrageous."

According to United Airlines, employees on a United Express flight called for volunteers to give up four seats on Sunday's flight from Chicago to Louisville because another flight crew needed the seats.

The employees offered money, but there were no takers. They picked four people at random, but a passenger in his late 60s refused. Law enforcement pulled him out of his seat.

Initially, United Airlines' CEO flip-flopped on his response, at first saying crews said the passenger was "disruptive" and "belligerent." Later on Tuesday the airline CEO issued an apology.

"It's never too late to do the right thing," the statement read. "I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what's broken so this never happens again."

Pennsylvania Congressman Brendan Boyle said, "When we as citizens, as consumers, step on a plane, we don't automatically lose our rights as citizens."

Congressman Boyle joined other lawmakers who vow to make the airline change how they handle practices including passenger's rights and overbooking.

Twelve senators, including two from our area, Senator Bob Casey and Senator Corey Booker, sent a letter with specific questions to the airline, asking how this could happen to a passenger with a purchased ticket who had already boarded after being cleared by the TSA.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called on the Secretary of Transportation to suspend "overbooking authority" on airlines until the department can complete a thorough review. Christie pointed out that United operates 70 percent of all flights at Newark Liberty International Airport.

In many cases airlines are required to compensate you not just for the flight, but for other options you paid for. And if you are involuntarily bumped, they must give you a written statement of your rights.

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