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Congressman Lloyd Smucker

Representing the 16th District of Pennsylvania

Smucker: United Airlines and Chicago Department of Aviation Should Be “Ashamed and Embarrassed”

April 11, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-16), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today sent a letter to United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz demanding answers about the shocking incident aboard United Airlines Flight 3411 on Sunday, April 9th.

In the letter, Rep. Smucker tells Mr. Munoz:

“In the video, the passenger was neither unruly nor aggressive towards authorities. United Airlines and the Chicago Department of Aviation should be ashamed and embarrassed for their actions and their response to this incident.”

Rep. Smucker also sent a copy of the letter to:

  • The Chicago Department of Aviation
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster
  • Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank Lobiondo

The full letter to Mr. Munoz is below and attached.

Dear Mr. Munoz,

As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I write regarding the recent incident that took place on a United Airlines plane on April 9, 2017 where a passenger was forcibly removed.  Video of the encounter shows a paying passenger, who refused to get off of an overbooked flight, being yanked violently from his seat and dragged across the floor by his arms towards the front of the plane. In the video, the passenger was neither unruly nor aggressive towards authorities. United Airlines and the Chicago Department of Aviation should be ashamed and embarrassed for both their actions and their response to this incident.  Moreover, it is disturbing that you mentioned in your short public statement that “this is an upsetting event to all of us here at United” and apologized for having to “re-accommodate these customers.” It’s insulting to these passengers, and others who travel frequently, to call this assault a “re-accommodation” and to have the audacity to say it’s “upsetting to those at United.”

In response to this shocking scene, I would like to ask the following questions, and appreciate answers in a detailed manner and a timely fashion:

  • Who made the decision to call the authorities and have the passenger physically removed?
  • Why did United Airlines stop at a voucher of $800 and not increase amounts until someone voluntarily got off?
  • How were the 4 passengers that were asked to get off the plane chosen? Is this standard practice?
  • What is United Airlines’ policy when it comes to overbooking flights and bumping passengers?  Is overbooking only passengers or does overbooking policy also explicitly cover airline staff as well? 
  • In what manner are paying customers made aware of the policies surrounding overbooking?
  • What is the medical condition of the passenger who was physically assaulted?  Was he assisted medically by airline staff or airport personnel?  Has United been in contact with him?  
  • How was the passenger in question able to re-board the plane, as video shows, and how was he removed the second time?   
  • Is United’s overbooking policy comparable to other airlines? How many passengers are physically/forcibly removed annually?
  • What ability does United have to investigate the security personnel who actually removed the person from the plane?  Will the results of any of United’s investigations be verified or confirmed by an outside entity or be made public?
  • Why were the United Airlines employees, the reason the individuals were being bumped from the flight, not given another mode of transportation to get to their destination? 
  • Explain the circumstances that these 4 particular United employees were so vital to operations that their seating on this flight was crucial enough to take these drastic measures? 

As a Member of Congress who represents thousands of airline passengers, it is my hope to never see this sort of brutal action happen again because of overbooking or airline policy. 

I look forward to your response.

 

                                                            Best,

                                                            Lloyd Smucker

                                                            Member of Congress

 

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