WASHINGTON – Sen. Al Franken (D – MN) helped introduce legislation Wednesday to guarantee ticketed passengers who have boarded their aircraft a legal right to fly.
Franken’s legislation was introduced in response to a passenger being forcibly dragged off a United Airlines plane earlier this month. The passenger, Dr. David Dao, was asked to give up his seat on the overbooked flight for last-minute crew members who needed to make it to their next work destination. When Dr. Dao refused, he was forcibly removed from the plane by three Chicago Department of Aviation officers. Several passengers recorded the incident and uploaded the footage to social media. The footage of the incident went viral, and United Airlines has been trying to handle the PR nightmare since.
Alongside Sens. Maggie Hassan (D – N.H.) and Brian Schatz (D – Hawaii), Franken helped introduce the Transparency, Improvements, and Compensation to Keep Every Ticket-holder Safe (TICKETS) Act, which would guarantee that a boarded passenger has the right to fly by prohibiting airlines from preventing ticket-holding passengers from flying if they have already been approved by the gate attendant to clear the boarding area and board the plane.
The bill also addresses compensation limits for ticket-holding travelers by eliminating the dollar-amount ceiling for compensation for passengers involuntarily denied boarding, reviews ticket over-selling practices, and requires flight crews seeking accommodations to provide more advanced notice.
“Like many Minnesotans, I was both concerned and disturbed when I saw the video of a man being forcibly dragged off a United Airlines flight,” said Sen. Franken. “I think it’s clear that United—and the airline industry in general—needs to improve their practices towards consumers.”
On Thursday, the day after this legislation was introduced, United Airlines announced they are introducing ten new policy changes to prevent a similar incident from occurring. Their new actions include offering up to $10,000 to customers who volunteer to give up their seat on an overbooked flight, no longer removing seated passengers unless there is a safety or security issue, reducing the amount of flights being overbooked, booking crew members at least an hour before departure, and providing additional training to gate staff to handle difficult customer situations.
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