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April 13, 2017

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is introducing a bill that would "prohibit airlines from forcibly removing passengers after they have already boarded the plane due to oversells or airline staff seeking to fly as passengers," International Business Times reports. The bill, called the "Customers Not Cargo Act," comes in the wake of a viral video showing the violent removal of a passenger who refused to give up his seat on an overbooked United Airlines plane.

As it stands now, a 2008 federal rule limits the amount of money airlines can pay ticketed passengers to $1,350 if they are involuntarily removed from flights. As a result, airlines are basically incentivized to forcibly remove passengers rather than offer more money. "The airline should be required to offer the passengers an incentive that gets someone to volunteer to deplane, rather than drag them off — and right now the incentives are in the wrong direction," Van Hollen told IBT. "There will be a price point at which someone will voluntarily get off the airplane. That's what airlines should be required to do."

On Thursday, the lawyer of the passenger removed from the United plane said he suffered a concussion, broken teeth, and a broken nose in the event. But as James Pethokoukis writes for The Week, it could be harder to boycott United than you might think — read his entire analysis here. Jeva Lange

April 13, 2017

The passenger violently forced off an overbooked United Airlines flight Sunday described the experience as "more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced leaving Vietnam" by boat after the fall of Saigon, his lawyer relayed Thursday.

David Dao, 69, was filmed being dragged down the aisle of the plane after he refused to give up his seat. Dao's lawyer, Thomas Demetrio, said during Thursday's press conference that Dao suffered a concussion, broken nose, sinus damage, and the loss of two teeth as a result of the incident. Demetrio added that Dao will require reconstructive surgery.

"Here's the law, real simple: If you're going to eject a passenger, under no circumstances can it be done with unreasonable force or violence," said Demetrio. "Are we gonna continue being treated like cattle, bullied? We all have enough angst for flying as it is.” Jeva Lange

April 12, 2017

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz issued a new statement Tuesday following the forced removal of a passenger who refused to give up his seat on Sunday when his plane was overbooked. "The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment," Munoz wrote. "I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened."

In an earlier letter to employees Monday night, Munoz initially stood behind the actions of the employees on the flight, claiming that the crew "followed established procedures" in having the man dragged off the plane. He claimed the passenger was "politely asked to deplane," but he was "disruptive and belligerent" and "defied" officers.

But in Munoz's Tuesday letter, he wrote that it is "never too late to do the right thing," adding that the company will be conducting a review of "crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations, and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement."

"I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what's broken so this never happens again," he said, adding: "I promise you we will do better." Jeva Lange

April 10, 2017

A man was forcibly removed from an overbooked United Airlines flight Sunday, sparking widespread horror after a video of the incident was posted online:

According to the passenger who filmed the video, United initially asked if four volunteers on the flight from Chicago to Louisville would be willing to give up their seat for $400, a free night in the hotel, and a flight at 3 p.m. Monday. The plane required the seats for flight crew members, who were needed in Louisville in order to arrive in time for their next flights. When no passenger accepted the trade, the airline doubled the offer to $800. When still no one accepted, United reportedly used a computer to randomly choose passengers who had already boarded the flight to be required to give up their seats.

After two people willingly left the plane, the man in the video reportedly said he was unwilling to surrender his seat because he was a doctor and had patients to see in the Louisville area Monday morning. He was then aggressively dragged from the plane, his face bloodied by officers forcing him out of his seat. Passengers filmed the incident, and the man can be heard screaming in captured footage. The man was eventually allowed to re-board the plane, which left with a two-hour delay.

"Everyone was shocked and appalled," said Audra D. Bridges, who recorded the video and gave her account of the events to The Courier-Journal. "There were several children on the flight as well that were very upset."

A spokesperson for United said: "Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation." Jeva Lange

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