United CEO calls passenger incident epic mistake

USA lawmakers blasted airline executives Tuesday and urged an end to added fees, cramped seats, and poor customer service after public outrage over a passenger dragged off a flight last month.

"It fits perfectly with our brand", said Jordan, whose airline is the largest domestic carrier as measured by passengers and unlike its rivals does not charge checked-bag or flight-change fees.

Munoz and executives from other major airlines were grilled at a House Transportation Committee hearing on Tuesday.

We are not going away, we will hold you accountable and we expect real results.

Instead of angrily calling for resignations or immediate action from Washington, lawmakers appeared content - for now - to let the airlines take their own steps to improve service.

Some lawmakers - and frequent flyers - are acknowledging that airline executives are in a tough spot as they testify before lawmakers at a hearing on problems with US air travel. While Capuano told Munoz he accepted the apologies, he said that is just the "beginning".

"Congress will not hesitate to act when your customers, our constituents, are not treated the way they deserve", said Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa, the committee chair.

Lawmakers lambasted executives from United Airlines and other carriers Tuesday as the first of two congressional hearings began into the high-profile incident of police dragging a man off a flight last month. And finally, the airline's employees did not have the authority to do what was right and "use their common sense", Munoz said.

'This is a turning point for United and our 87,000 professionals, ' a contrite Munoz said. The April 9 incident ignited a debate about poor service and a lack of customer-friendly policies on USA airlines. Dao was dragged off the flight after he refused to give up his seat for a United crew member who needed one.

"Mr. Munoz, you asked us to trust you, today, to make the changes that will be needed for United".

The hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee came five days after United reached a confidential settlement with David Dao, the doctor its workers bloodied some weeks earlier while trying to free up his seat on the overbooked flight out of Chicago.

Executives from United, Alaska, Southwest, and American Airlines answered House Transportation Committee questions after incidents where a United Airlines passenger was hospitalized after he was removed from a plane, and an American Airlines flight attendant was suspended for violently confiscating a baby stroller.

But representatives extended their righteous anger beyond Munoz and involuntary bumping, as executives from American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines were taken to task over everything from industry consolidation to added fees and general passenger rights. They've been highlighting unfair policies, including the change policy on United Airlines that has made the company about $800 million, but costs United nothing. United will reduce overbooking and offer up to $10,000 in vouchers to give up an overbooked seat, he said.

Video recordings of the incident showing Dr. Dao being dragged off the flight quickly went viral, leading to a fierce public backlash against United Airlines. However, he outlined policy changes the airline was making to ensure the incident would not be repeated.

Airline representatives apologized for problems, but said some were beyond their control.

  • Eleanor Harrison