United Airlines fares well after dragging passenger off plane | The independent
The US government has told United Continental it will not face fines after a 69-year-old man was dragged into a robbery in April, a US official said on Wednesday, a move that was criticized by a passenger rights group.
The US Department of Transportation informed United of its decision in a letter released Wednesday by passenger advocacy group Flyers Rights.
A government official confirmed the authenticity of the letter, which said United had failed to comply with all aspects of the government’s rules on overselling seats.
In April, a video went viral on social media of David Dao being dragged from a United plane at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport after refusing to give up his seat to make room for a crew member.
United said in a statement on Wednesday “this incident should never have happened and we are implementing all the improvements we announced in April which put the customer at the center of everything we do.”
The incident has drawn attention to the practice of “bumping” whereby airlines deny passengers access to flights after deliberately overbooking them to ensure all seats are occupied.
United said they have seen an almost 90% reduction in involuntary denied boarding year over year since May 1.
Paul Hudson, president of Flyers Rights, said that “the Department of Transportation concluded that the conduct of United Airlines did not justify enforcement action is a dereliction of duty.”
He said the US Department of Transportation should have held a public hearing after finding United violated government rules.
For months, the transportation department repeatedly refused to disclose the status of its investigation into Mr. Dao’s dragging.
“No passenger should be treated like this,” US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao told a Senate panel in July.
The ministry did not immediately comment on Wednesday.
The government letter said United had properly compensated four out of five passengers on the Chicago flight, but failed to provide the required written oversold notices to Mr. Dao or his wife.
United chief executive Oscar Munoz apologized at a congressional hearing in May for the impeachment of Dao, with whom the airline has come to an agreement for an undisclosed sum.
Airlines have said they regularly overbook their flights as a small percentage of passengers do not show up.
The House and Senate bills under consideration include new protections for passengers and would ban the practice of bumping into boarding airline passengers.