United CEO now calls incident on Louisville-bound flight a 'truly horrific event'
Outrage is growing after video of an Elizabethtown doctor dragged from a Louisville-bound United flight has spread around the world.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Outrage is growing after video of an Elizabethtown doctor dragged from a Louisville-bound United flight has spread around the world.
David Dao was dragged off a United Express flight to Louisville from Chicago on Sunday. The airline says Dao and three others were randomly selected to be bumped off the flight. When Dao refused, things got violent. The airline initially said its employees followed protocol when calling airport authorities to remove Dao from the plane.
But on Tuesday afternoon, United’s CEO issued a new statement on the incident:
“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.
When you book a flight, you’re essentially signing a contract and agreeing to that airline's rules.
"A lot of people don't realize that the airlines have a lot of power,” said Courtney Siefring, a Travel Agent with Personal Travel in Greenville, Indiana.
The rules are often found in something known as an airline’s Contract of Carriage.
"So look over the fine print that is on the ticket, because each airline can actually set their own standards,” said Mindy Eaton with the Louisville Better Business Bureau.
"Even though you pay all this money for your flight ticket, they can still change things … pretty much you're at the mercy of the airlines,” Siefring said.
Overbooking is not illegal. The Department of Transportation says that most airlines overbook flights to compensate for "no-show" customers.
"Flights will overbook for the simple fact that you want to fly a full plane,” Eaton said.
"If they're going to pay all this money to have that aircraft fly somewhere, they want it completely full," Siefring said. "They want every seat sold."
Passengers bumped off flights involuntarily are entitled to compensation by law.
Here’s more information about involuntary bumping from the Department of Transportation’s website:
DOT requires each airline to give all passengers who are bumped involuntarily a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides who gets on an oversold flight and who doesn't. Those travelers who don't get to fly are frequently entitled to denied boarding compensation in the form of a check or cash. The amount depends on the price of their ticket and the length of the delay:
- If you are bumped involuntarily and the airline arranges substitute transportation that is scheduled to get you to your final destination (including later connections) within one hour of your original scheduled arrival time, there is no compensation.
- If the airline arranges substitute transportation that is scheduled to arrive at your destination between one and two hours after your original arrival time (between one and four hours on international flights), the airline must pay you an amount equal to 200% of your one-way fare to your final destination that day, with a $675 maximum.
- If the substitute transportation is scheduled to get you to your destination more than two hours later (four hours internationally), or if the airline does not make any substitute travel arrangements for you, the compensation doubles (400% of your one-way fare, $1350 maximum).
- If your ticket does not show a fare (for example, a frequent-flyer award ticket or a ticket issued by a consolidator), your denied boarding compensation is based on the lowest cash, check or credit card payment charged for a ticket in the same class of service (e.g., coach, first class) on that flight.
- You always get to keep your original ticket and use it on another flight. If you choose to make your own arrangements, you can request an "involuntary refund" for the ticket for the flight you were bumped from. The denied boarding compensation is essentially a payment for your inconvenience.
- If you paid for optional services on your original flight (e.g., seat selection, checked baggage) and you did not receive those services on your substitute flight or were required to pay a second time, the airline that bumped you must refund those payments to you.
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