BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the wake of the United Airlines debacle at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport last weekend, in which paying customer David Dao was forcibly removed from a flight, Maryland Senator Jim Rosapepe says he’s drafting legislation to keep the same thing from happening at Maryland’s Baltimore–Washington International Airport.
The bill piggybacks on a national push to protect passengers. This bill, specific to BWI, would ensure airlines can’t use local police simply to enforce their business interests.
Days after video of Dao being dragged of a flight went viral, sparking national outrage and launching a local investigation, Rosapepe promises he’ll fight to keep BWI passengers in their seats.
“I’m having legislation drafted to say that police at BWI Airport will not be allowed to drag ticketed passengers off a plane simply because an airline is overbooked,” said Rosapepe.
The bill complements U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen’s (D-Md.) Customers Not Cargo Act, which would amend federal law, and prevent Maryland Transportation Authority Police from removing ticketed passengers who are not threats to public safety.
The state bill wouldn’t stop transportation authority police at the gate, but it would ensure they can’t board the plane and remove a ticketed passenger unless there is a public safety threat.
It’s protection BWI passengers never thought they’d need.
“As far as pulling customers off because it’s an overbooked flight, I think that’s absurd,” said passenger Yonnas Banteamlak.
“Unless there’s a public safety issue, I don’t think they should be allowed to do that,” said Ivan Martes.
From BWI terminals to the Senate floor.
Rosapepe says it’s time for state legislation to step up, and police to back down.
“Our police are at BWI to protect the public, not to harass the public,” said Rosapepe.
The state bill will be introduced the next time the Maryland General Assembly meets, either in a special session or in next January.
In the meantime, United Airlines says it will no longer call on police to pull off passengers who aren’t a threat.
Three airlines have changed their policies in wake of the incident, CBS News reports. United says it will no longer allow crew members to displace customers already on a plane. Delta is now willing to pay nearly $10,000 to persuade a customer to give up a seat, and American promises to never bump a seated passenger from a flight.
United has announced they will no longer use local police to enforce their business interests rather than public safety. Delta has raised compensation to voluntarily bumped passengers to up to $10,000.