Cantwell Grills United Exec, Proposes New Passengers’ Bill of Rights

Cantwell: “No excuse for dehumanizing the aspects of passenger travel and just making them part of someone’s business plan”

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, in a hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) demanded answers from United Airlines President Scott Kirby on how his company will change in the wake of its forcible removal of Dr. David Dao in April. Should the airlines continue to prove unresponsive to the basic needs of their customers, Cantwell suggested new legislation is necessary to protect the flying public.

“I think it may be time for a new Passengers’ Bill of Rights to make sure that we’re focusing on the consumer experience, making sure… that we’re doing things appropriate and necessary to make sure that they are protected in these incidents,” said Cantwell.

In response to a vague answer from Mr. Kirby on what led to Mr. Dao’s mistreatment, Cantwell expressed concern that the executive did not grasp the gravity of the situation:

“You’re parsing words here, which does not give me the faith that you fully understand the situation,” the senator continued. “Airlines are treating people as an algorithm.”

A leader on consumer protection for flyers, Senator Cantwell led the passage of key safeguards as part of the 2016 FAA Reauthorization Bill. Those protections included new standards for automatic refunds for baggage delays and incorrect seat assignments, allowances for families traveling together, and honest reporting of weather delays and cancellations. 

A transcript of Senator Cantwell’s remarks at the hearing can be found here.