CHICAGO: It would be illegal for Illinois state or local government employees to forcibly remove travellers from flights under a bill introduced by a state lawmaker on Monday after a United Airlines passenger was dragged from an aircraft last week.
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The Airline Passenger Protection Act, sponsored by Republican state Representative Peter Breen, comes after Dr. David Dao, 69, was pulled from a United flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to help make space for four crew members.
The treatment of Dao sparked international outrage, as well as multiple apologies from the carrier, and raised questions about the overbooking policies of airlines.
Under Breen’s measure, passengers could not be removed from flights by state or local government authorities unless they were presenting a danger to themselves or others, a public emergency was taking place or the passenger had caused a serious disturbance, according to a copy of the bill introduced in the state capital, Springfield.
“A commercial airline that removes validly seated customers without serious cause breaches the sacred trust between passengers and their airlines,” the bill said.
The legislation would also bar the state of Illinois from making travel arrangements, doing business with or having investments in any commercial airline that maintained a policy of removing paying passengers to make room for employees travelling on non-revenue tickets.
Dao, who was travelling to Louisville, Kentucky, on April 9, suffered a broken nose, a concussion and lost two teeth when he was pulled from his seat by officers from the Chicago Department of Aviation’s security force to make room for four employees on the overbooked flight.
The three officers, who have not been named, were put on paid leave last week, the department said.
Meanwhile, a British couple were removed from an overbooked easyJet flight and not offered compensation a day after a United Airlines passenger was dragged off a plane in the US, according to a media report on Monday.
The British couple were due to fly from Luton Airport to Catania in Sicily on Monday last week.
After boarding the aircraft they were asked to leave by staff because the plane had been overbooked, the BBC reported.
easyJet has apologised and blamed human error for the situation, the report said.
Air Canada has apologised and offered compensation for bumping a 10-year-old off a flight, the boy’s father said on Monday, after the Canadian family’s story sparked headlines following a high-profile incident involving overbooking by US carrier United Airlines.
Brett Doyle said his family, who first tried unsuccessfully to check in his older son online, was told at the airport there was no seat available for the boy on an oversold flight from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, to Montreal, where they were connecting to a flight to a Costa Rica vacation last month.
The entrepreneur from Prince Edward Island said the family of four then drove to Moncton, New Brunswick, to catch a different flight to Montreal only to discover at the airport that it had been cancelled.
“I thought it was a joke, that there were hidden cameras or something,” he recalled by phone from Charlottetown.
Doyle said the family contacted Air Canada, the country’s largest carrier, in March, but only received an apology and the offer of a C$2,500 trip voucher after the story was published by a Canadian newspaper on Saturday.