Md. Senator Pushing To Bar Airlines From Forcibly Removing Passengers

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The video of a passenger being dragged off a United Airlines flight has left plenty of lawmakers furious, and one Maryland senator is now pushing to bar airlines from forcibly removing passengers from overbooked flights.

WJZ’s Rick Ritter spoke with U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, who says he’s irate over this United incident.

He says the video was revealing to the public and himself, and now is the time to step up.

The infamous video has left United Airlines in a storm like no other. Many are wondering how they could let this happen.

“This didn’t have to happen,” said Douglas Kidd, with the National Association for Airline Passengers. “It’s egregious.”

And others are wondering why it happened.

“You’re confronting someone and dragging them off the plane,” said one traveler. “It shouldn’t’ happen.”

For Sen. Van Hollen, it doesn’t get any easier to watch.

“It absolutely made my blood boil to see this individual being physically dragged of the airplane,” he said.

The Maryland senator is now spearheading legislation that would bar airlines from forcibly removing passengers from overbooked flights.

“The underline issue is that airlines have the right right now to force you off the airplane, even though they’re the ones who overbooked,” said Sen. Van Hollen.

Van Hollen says airlines need to offer passengers sufficient incentives, and keep going up until someone volunteers to get off.

“There will always be some price point where some passenger says, ‘You know what, I don’t have to get home right away.'”

He also says this is a problem that’s lingered for years.

“This video is a wake up call to everybody about abuses that have been going on.”

A risk of overbooking that needs to be on the airline, and not the passenger.

“We got to treat people as customers, not cargo,” Sen. Van Hollen said. “Not things that can just be thrown around.”

Van Hollen calls this a common sense idea, and believes he will get broad support as soon as Congress returns to session. He also says he will insist on a vote with the U.S. Senate.

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