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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton States Reasons for Requesting Committee Hearing on Violent Removal of United Airlines Passenger from Flight

Apr 11, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released her letter to Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) requesting a hearing on the violent removal of a passenger from a United Airlines flight this past Sunday.

In her letter, Norton wrote, “The public is incensed, and the video images from fellow passengers are disturbing enough to warrant a public hearing by our committee when the House returns from recess.  A hearing would allow us to question airport police, United Airlines personnel, and Federal Aviation Administration officials, among others, not only about the underlying facts regarding the United Airlines incident, but, perhaps more important, to learn whether appropriate procedures were in place in Chicago and what guidance is available nationwide when passengers are asked to leave an overbooked flight….We need to know why overbooking is necessary, why there is an increase in overbooking, why it has been increasingly difficult to get passengers to give up seats on overbooked flights, and whether there are alternatives.”

Norton’s full letter is below.

The Honorable Bill Shuster
Chairman
House Transportation and Infrastructure   
  Committee
2251 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Frank LoBiondo
Chairman
Subcommittee on Aviation
House Transportation and Infrastructure 
  Committee
2251 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Peter J. DeFazio
Ranking Member
House Transportation and Infrastructure 
  Committee
2164 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Rick Larsen
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Aviation
House Transportation and Infrastructure 
  Committee
2164 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairmen Shuster and LoBiondo and Ranking Members DeFazio and Larsen:

Like many others in our country, I was appalled by the violent removal of a passenger on an overbooked United Airlines flight on Sunday from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Louisville International Airport to make room for United Airlines employees.  The public is incensed, and the video images from fellow passengers are disturbing enough to warrant a public hearing by our committee when the House returns from recess.  A hearing would allow us to question airport police, United Airlines personnel, and Federal Aviation Administration officials, among others, not only about the underlying facts regarding the United Airlines incident, but, perhaps more important, to learn whether appropriate procedures were in place in Chicago and what guidance is available nationwide when passengers are asked to leave an overbooked flight.  For example, federal law requires airlines to give passengers up to $1350 if they are bumped from an overbooked flight, but there is no factual information about what offers were made by United Airlines to passengers to voluntarily give up their seats.  We need to know why overbooking is necessary, why there is an increase in overbooking, why it has been increasingly difficult to get passengers to give up seats on overbooked flights, and whether there are alternatives.  The outrage over the incident has continued, and I believe it is appropriate for Congress to respond with a public committee or aviation subcommittee hearing. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton

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