United CEO Called Before Congress To Explain Eviction And Injury Of Passenger

Elizabeth Williams
May 3, 2017

Both told the executives they need to improve or face action by Congress. It gave $12,000 to Shuster, the website says.

"Congress will not hesitate to act whenever necessary", he said.

United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized repeatedly in the often-tense hearing room for the removal of Dao, with whom the airline reached a settlement last week for an undisclosed sum.

The Senate Aviation Operations Subcommittee will hold a similar hearing on Thursday, May 4. Notably, Delta didn't accept the invitation.

United has changed its policies by reducing overbooked flights and offering passengers who give up their seats up to $10,000.

"Seize this opportunity because if you don't, we're going to come, and you're not going to like it", Shuster said.

Sadly I've been watching Washington long enough to have a sick feeling in my stomach and a suspicion that this is all for show and nothing is going to change.

Congressmen pressed the airline execs about their overbooking policies and their contract of carriage, which can range from 20 pages to more than 60 pages and are often hard to understand. The negative publicity is widely seen as a blow to the Big Three airlines - United, American and Delta - as they lobby the Donald Trump administration to review the open skies agreement with the Gulf airlines, which the U.S. carriers accuse of being unfairly subsidized. Kirby said that goal was unlikely for his company, but that United would seek to simplify the document.

On overbooking, however, the carriers disagree.

Southwest, however, avoided the heat from lawmakers because the company has already agreed to stop overbooking flights starting this month. Jordan said the no-show rate at Southwest has dropped over the years, in large part to due to improved forecasting and data-management technology. Customers have never been happier with their services.

Since the episode, Alaska, Southwest, and American testified on Tuesday that they have reviewed and altered policies for passengers bumped from flights and increased compensation.

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"It's shameful that an event like the one that we had at United needs to drive this conversation", Munoz said.

Sprague added that without overbooking past year, more than 600,000 seats that Alaska sold wouldn't have been available.

Congressman Peter DeFazio, the top Democrat on the House committee holding Tuesday's hearing, said it was "way too early" to know if the voluntary policy changes announced by United are permanent.

Committee members complained about seat sizes, about checked-bag fees, about ticket-booking websites, about overbooking and bumping, and rude gate attendants. The comments were made by Kerry Philipovitch, senior vice president of customer experience.

DeFazio connected change fees and overbooking, noting that when airlines first instituted overbooking as a practice in the 1950s and 1960s, they weren't collecting substantial revenues from no-show passengers.

United Airlines (UAL) rose 5.2% to 73.94, also retaking its 50-day line.

"The reason I am sitting here today is that on April 9 we had a serious breach of public trust", Munoz testified before the House Transportation Committee.

In the end, it's all about treating everyone with decency, and up until now, the airlines have been tone deaf on that, McGee said. "You want a seat in the front, you pay extra", said Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.).

"It was a mistake of epic proportions, clearly, in hindsight", a contrite Munoz told a hearing of the transportation committee of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. He also said that no passenger who have been seated would be asked to leave the airplane.

They also complained about complicated, inscrutable contracts of carriage.

Other reports by VgToday

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