Rep. Schakowsky Wants To Ban Involuntary 'Bumping' From Flights

By Stephen Gossett in News on Apr 13, 2017 5:59PM

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U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) joins demonstrators speaking out against police brutality outside the United Airlines terminal at O'Hare International Airport on April 11 in Chicago (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As a myriad of official bodies conduct hearings and reviews over the alarming, violent dragging of United passenger David Dao from his flight at O'Hare International Airport, one lawmaker is putting forth legislation that would abolish the controversial airline practice of "bumping" customers from overbooked flights or fully booked flights that require space for crew.

The first-of-its-kind legislation from U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) would abolish what has become deeply thorny territory for airlines. Overselling has been common in the industry, a way to maximize selling capacity since some would-be passengers don't show for their scheduled flights; but the bloody removal of Dao—which, according to his lawyer, left him with a broken nose, a concussion and the loss of two front teeth—from a fully booked flight has left the practice and how airlines deal with deplaning under sharp scrutiny.

The bill, if passed, would "end the practice of involuntarily 'bumping' passengers from oversold aircrafts once and for all. If an airline chooses to oversell a flight, or has to accommodate their crew on a fully booked flight, it is their responsibility to keep raising their offer until a customer chooses to give up their seat."

United initially said that the flight from O'Hare was "overbooked," but later clarified that it was fully booked but needed seats for four crew members. Three passengers agreed to take another flight, but Dao, who is a doctor and said he had patients to see the next day, did not. Three aviation officers have been put on leave after footage of the incident sparked international outrage.

[H/T Crain's]

Schakowsky added, “I am glad that United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz is finally giving this situation the serious attention it deserves... However, I do not want to rely on voluntary compliance from the airlines to prevent this sort of incident."

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) has also said that Congressional action may be necessary. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin were among 21 senators who wrote a letter to United and CEO Munoz demanding an explanation of United's operating procedure for deciding forcible removals, how often over the last year the airline has deplaned a passenger already onboard, and why a full $1,350 incentive wasn't offered to Dao, among numerous other questions.

Ginger Evans, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation, is expected to appear at a City Council hearing to investigate the infamous incident.