United Airlines’ forceful removal of a Louisville-bound passenger on United Express flight 3411, reportedly to make room for United employees, is the predictable result of a lack of competition in the American airline industry.
The top United executive says “no one should ever be mistreated this way” an has apologized.
Unchecked airline consolidation, with four airlines now flying 80% of domestic passengers, has led to progressively more crowded planes, shrinking seats, outrageous fees, reduced service to smaller cities.
The National Consumers League (NCL) is urging Congress to conduct its own investigation of this and similar incidents on our nation’s airlines to determine how the lack of competition in the airline industry is contributing to this trend.
Under the fine print that every consumer who buys a ticket agrees to, airlines are free to sell more tickets than are available on an airplane and bump passengers with or — as the United incident demonstrates — without their consent. NCL has long urged Congress to pass legislation like the SEAT act and the Passenger Bill of Rights Act of 2011, which would give the flying public basic consumer protections.
The NCL says consumers in Europe already enjoy far more protections than flyers in the U.S. have. It’s time that Congress take a long-overdue look at why American travelers are getting second-rate consumer protections that allows incidents like this one to occur.
Statement from United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz on United Express Flight 3411
April 11, 2017
The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.
I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.
It’s never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We’ll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.
I promise you we will do better.