"Something is broken", Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said at the start of the hearing. Shuster predicted a "one-size-fits-all" solution that may serve some airlines, but not all.
The passenger, 69-year-old David Dao, was dragged off the plane by Chicago Aviation police officers after refusing to give up his seat on the plane. In the past month, Dao was forcibly removed from his flight, sparking widespread outrage, and a male flight attendant got into a heated confrontation with a female passenger over an extra-wide stroller, unleashing even more outrage.
"And a lot of people just don't have a choice any more", DeFazio said.
Still, Cooke thought the airlines could work matters out.
At a hearing on Capitol Hill, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz promised Congress "we will do better" in the wake of the airline's passenger dragging fiasco, which left Dr. David Dao bloodied and concussed.
Munoz said in testimony that United has taken a number of steps following the Dao incident, which was filmed by fellow passengers and widely shared on social media.
Republicans - including Shuster, typically a steadfast supporter of the industry - and Democrats blasted the subdued panel of executives, saying that if the industry doesn't improve the passenger experience then lawmakers may enact stronger consumer protections related to overbooking, contracts of carriage and law enforcement on planes.
For example, United and Delta have both increased the amount they are willing to offer in the case of an overbooked flight to $10,000. They said passengers are at the mercy of the airlines.
A trade association for the carriers says airlines are "Taking action to deliver a better experience for the 2.2 million customers." and insists "competition is alive and well in the airline industry".
Munoz said an investigation into the incident by the airline found four basic failures. United, however, had initially defended its employees' conduct before Munoz made multiple public apologies for how they had treated Dao. "What happened on that United flight shouldn't have escalated to where it was", said the Brownsburg Republican. Many committee members, majority frequent flyers themselves, told their own horror stories.
The BOARD (Bumping on Overbooked Airplanes Requires Dealing) Fairly act, introduced by Chicago-area Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky, which would prohibit airlines from bumping passengers against their will, ever.
But airlines had the lowest rate of involuntarily bumping passengers previous year - 0.62 passengers for every 10,000 transported - since the Transportation Department began keeping track in 1995.
"The reason I'm sitting here today is because on April 9, we had a serious breach of public trust", Munoz told the US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, according to ABC News. But they said, without offering specifics, that they would not hesitate to clamp down on airlines. The lawmakers' collective message: Fix your airlines, or expect to hear back from us.
Some airline don't charge baggage fees, while some do, said Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass.
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