0 min left

Lawmakers Warn Airlines Against Future Passenger Faux Pas

Frankfurt, Germany - July 17, 2014: United Airlines aircraft logo at an aircraft in Frankfurt. United Airlines is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

Munoz joins fellow executives in hearing before Congress.

In the wake of several viral passenger horror stories, executives from America’s major airlines came before Congress to propose passenger experience solutions, while receiving a stern warning from legislators. The first Congressional hearing stemming from the United Flight 3411 incident ended in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday after over four hours of testimony was recorded.

United Airlines chief executive Oscar Munoz accepted responsibility for the hearing to open the meeting, telling the lawmakers that his airline was the reason that executives had come before the committee. In April, videos of a passenger being forcefully removed from a United flight went viral, shaming the airline and forcing the change of several airline policies.

“The reason I’m sitting here today is because […] we had a serious breach of public trust,” Munoz said in front of the panel, as quoted by Bloomberg. “I am personally sorry that my immediate response and the response of the airline was inadequate to that moment.”

Munoz was joined at the table by executives from other airlines, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, each answering to the committee from their carrier’s perspective. When leaders at American were questioned about the incident where a woman’s stroller was forcefully confiscated after boarding, Reuters reports a senior vice president conceded: “Clearly what happened was wrong.”

Each airline provided a different answer as to how they would improve the passenger experience. United released their report after the situation, offering multiple solutions to the overbooking problem. Leaders at Alaska said they would reconsider their overbooking process, while Southwest executives noted a massive upgrade to their systems to end overbooking on all their flights. American was the only holdout, noting they would not change their policies as a result of the situation.

Each of the leaders at the table were given a warning by the House committee to change, or be changed – The legislators did not rule out creating a federal law to create uniform rules across airlines.

“If airlines don’t get their act together, we are going to act; it is going to be one size fits all,” Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the committee, said to the panel, as quoted by Reuters. “Seize this opportunity because if you don’t, we’re going to come, and you’re not going to like it.”

In 2016, airlines dodged several potential laws that would require them to change business practices. The proposed bills included an airline fee bill and a bill to force airlines to allow families to sit together.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
Sabai May 4, 2017

Airlines have nothing to fear from a toothless congress. Their lobbyists (A4A) will donate money to reelection campaigners and all will be forgiven.

FlyingNone May 3, 2017

Just curious why Delta didn't accept the invitation ?