United Airlines is in the spotlight for their treatment of passengers again. This time, video footage shows a man being dragged off a flight in Chicago that officials first tried to say was "overbooked." The incident happened at O'Hare Airport on Sunday on a plane that was headed to Louisville, Kentucky.
United management reportedly informed passengers of the "overbooking" of seats and asked for volunteers to come off the flight. When that didn't happen - they then selected passengers at random. Fellow passengers looked on and filmed as the still unidentified 69-year-old man was forcibly removed and bloodied up by several security officers. Come to find out, the "overbooking," was the company wanting to fly a crew to another destination.
Video Source: New York Times
Here's where it gets really interesting. The CEO of United Airlines is calling the passenger that was forcibly removed from a plane in Chicago yesterday "disruptive and belligerent." That comment flies in face of what witnesses reported - that the man simply refused to give up his seat, saying he paid for it, that he was a doctor and had patients to see the next morning.
In a letter obtained by CNBC Monday, CEO Oscar Munoz claimed that the employees "followed established procedures." Munoz told employees that the man "refused to comply" and that the officers were "left with no choice." The CEO said although employees can use this as a learning opportunity, he "stand behind all of you." Who no one's stand by is the O'Hare police. The main officer involved has been put on leave and it's being reported that no one from the airline blessed that kind of force to be used.
Source: ABC News
What Are Your Rights?
In light of this situation, you should get up to speed on what your rights are when it comes to overbooking.
In a nutshell, we don't have many. Thanks to the tiny print that most of us don't read, I can tell you this:
- Airlines do have the power to decide who leaves a plane if volunteers do not come forward.
- Those with disabilities, unaccompanied minors under 18 and/or unaccompanied kids between ages five and fifteen using the unaccompanied minors service are "protected."
- You get compensation if you are booted off. The Department of Transportation does have clear guidance about compensation due to fliers "involuntary denied boarding," and a bumped traveler who arrives to his final destination more than four hours late is entitled to an amount worth 400% of his one-way fare (capped at a maximum of $1,350).
Other than that, flyers have no other rights. Don't be surprised if the rules change now though. It's always a good idea to read the small print before flying.
Source: USA Today