Telling It Like It Isn’t
May 3, 2017
 
Click for full C-SPAN video
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz testifies Tuesday before the House Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill. He was among several executives from many airlines who appeared at the hearing

Billed as an information gathering hearing on what can be done to protect airline passengers’ civil rights, several airline executives spoke before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday.

They were asked about how customers are treated, and particularly on the subject of overbooked seats.

In attendance were United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz and new president Scott Kirby; Bill McGee,  an aviation consultant for Consumers Union; and executives from Alaska Airlines and Southwest.

FlyersRights’ staff attorney Andrew Applebaum covered the hearing.

“Airlines and many Republican congressmen note that flying has never been safer but fail to mention that safety was not deregulated, and that most improved safety is due to FAA regulation and better safety technology, which airlines have often resisted,” said Paul Hudson, FlyersRights’ president.

Southwest Airlines Exec. Vice President Robert Jordan jokes that people should be able to bring their clothes with them if they buy a ticket (SW is the only airline that doesn’t charge for bags). Jordan was by Transportation Committee members how it can afford not charging for bags when other airlines claim they need to.

The hearing was called after a series of incidents that started with the United fiasco on April 9 at O’Hare, but also included a confrontation between an American Airlines flight attendant and passenger, a Delta passenger being kicked off an airplane for using the bathroom during a 30-minute wait on the tarmac to take off, and the death of a giant rabbit on a United flight.

The plight of air travel was summed up by William J. McGee, travel and aviation consultant for Consumers Union, who also appeared at the hearing: “Consumers are at the mercy of powerful airlines.”

United CEO says airline chooses passengers for removal based on their fare paid and Frequent Flyer mileage with the airline. Rep. Bernice Johnson replies: “So you picked the ‘cheapest’ customer.”

Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, threatened another hearing if nothing was done.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) brought up high load factors, delays within the airlines’ control and long contracts of carriage.

DeFazio is sponsor of

HR 1420 – the Know Before You Fly Act, that requires airlines to give passengers their
Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ): Soon you’re going to start charging to use the restroom. United President, “Sir, we are not going to do that.”

policies on bag fees and what assistance the airline is required to provide when there is a disruption of service.

Fittingly, at the end of the hearing, the microphone picked up an aide to Munoz asking if he wanted “Premium services to expedite him through the airport.”
Your Letters!

In response to No Seat For You!

Dear FlyersRights:

United Airlines CEO was upset the public saw and heard what they were caught doing. Will probably move next to ban cell phones from planes that can record.
Let’s call for the removal of this United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz who not only built the rules that caused this but still approved of them today and is only shocked and outraged he got caught. He is also shocked that the Chicago police did not take the hit for mistreatment.
Oscar Munoz is an American businessman. He was named president and chief executive officer of United Airlines on September 8, 2015.
JP

Dear FlyersRights:

If, as you say, the gate employees were employees of United Airlines, not Republic, they had no legal jurisdiction to order passengers off the aircraft once they were boarded.  Only the aircraft owner could do that, from what I have read, and that would have to be a Republic employee.  Of course United wants to protect Republic since Republic is in bankruptcy and United does not want to lose them as a supplier, taking over the route themselves, and having to pay twice as much for the same product.
BE
Dear BE,
The day the story broke, we knew it was United’s subsidiary, Republic Airlines, by its flight number. So we asked our United contacts if they could blame Republic – considering that crew is paid far lower wages than the mainline carrier.
United will not place any blame on Republic, but the gate agents working that flight were United employees, according to our sources.
Yes, it’s a bit deceptive to sell regional jet tickets as if it were a mainline flight, because passengers must pay the same – the savings are not passed along to you, despite the regional jet crew being paid much less.
Thanks for writing,

Kendall Creighton
FlyersRights

Dear FlyersRights:

Just read in the L.A. Times today of your existence while reading about Dr. Dao.  The last sentence was a quote by Sue Kamm, a retired librarian…”I wouldn’t fly United if they gave me a free pass to fly first class to anywhere for the rest of my life”   I feel the same.
A broken nose, concussion and loss of 2 front teeth !!!!
PLEASE force airlines to make more room for coach flyers.  A flight I was on recently had 12″ between my face and the seat in front !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WE NEED MORE SPACE  !!!!!!!!
On a 5  1/2 hour flight from Hawaii’s big island to L.A. offered ZERO food for purchase and I had to beg for a tiny bag of pretzels.
Charging for checked bags is a sin !!!!!
Cleanliness should be improved.  The sticky floors in those MINISCULE bathrooms are disgusting.  And must they be THAT SMALL ???????????  I am a tiny woman of 5’3″   125 lbs but flying conditions are BRUTAL !!!!!!
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL YOU DO !!!
JE
Dear JE,
We certainly agree and hope Airlines and Congress will finally get the message, and not do another white wash shuffle.  On May 2, the House Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing and so will the Senate Corporations  Committee on May 4th.
Flyersrights.org has advocated for a 30 item proposed Airline Passenger Bill of Rights (available on our web site) since 2012, but so far not a single member of Congress out of 535 has been willing to introduce it or anything close and the US Dept. Of Transportation has a perfect record of rejecting or ignoring every consumer group rule proposal since 2009. 
The traveling public needs to make a stand or as the saying goes “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”
Regards,
Paul Hudson
President
Member, FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee

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