Lori Aratani The Washington Post
Following United Dragging Incident, Congress to Hold Oversight Hearing on Airline Consumer Issues
April 20, 2017
  • Share
  • In the wake of public outrage over an incident in which a man was dragged from a United Airlines flight, a House committee will hold a hearing on airline consumer issues, its leaders said.

    No date has been set for the hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, but the goal will be to “provide Members an opportunity to learn more about consumer issues related to the commercial airline industry,” Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (Ore.), the committee’s ranking Democrat, said in a statement.

    “Further information regarding the hearing will be forthcoming,” according to the brief announcement.

    News of the hearing comes less than two weeks after video showed David Dao being dragged off a United flight at O’Hare Airport by officers from the Chicago Department of Aviation. According to Dao’s attorney, the 69-year-old Kentucky resident suffered a serious concussion and a broken nose and lost two teeth in the incident, which was recorded and tweeted by his fellow passengers. The incident occurred when the airline asked for volunteers to give up their seats to accommodate four off-duty crew members on the Louisville-bound flight. Dao and three other passengers were asked to leave the flight after airline officials were unable to persuade anyone to leave the flight voluntarily in exchange for a flight voucher.

    The videos showed Dao yelling as he was dragged out of his seat, down the aisle off the plane as it sat at the gate at O’Hare. The incident was a public-relations nightmare for United and drew international calls for a boycott of the airline.

    While there have been several high-profile incidents involving in-flight disputes, this one resonated with travelers increasingly frustrated with the flying experience. Despite reports that say more flights are on time and that airlines are losing fewer bags, the incident fueled the perception that flying has become a nightmare and that air travel has become something travelers endure rather than enjoy.

    The episode also drew condemnation from elected officials, many of whom have demanded answers from the airline, the Chicago Aviation Authority and the Department of Transportation. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) was among those who called for  hearings into the matter. DOT officials have said its office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings is reviewing the incident.