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Apr 12, 2017 3:56 PM

Hassan: May need to 'strengthen' passenger bill of rights after 'outrageous' video of man getting dragged off flight


CONCORD – Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan says she was “absolutely appalled” by the viral video from earlier this week of a passenger being dragged off a United Airlines flight.

And Hassan, who’s a member of the Senate Commerce Aviation Subcommittee that has oversight of domestic commercial aviation, said the she and her fellow federal lawmakers on the panel will consider “whether we need to strengthen a flying public’s bill of rights.”

The videos, shot Sunday by fellow passengers on a United flight from Chicago to Louisville, show David Dao being pulled from his seat by a security officer and dragged off the plane after he refused to be bumped from the flight so a United employee could fly to his next assignment.

As the video created a firestorm on social media on Monday and Tuesday, United apologized for the incident.

Asked by reporters at a news conference on Wednesday about the incident, Hassan highlighted that “I joined Sen. Schatz (Brian Schatz of Hawaii) and about 20 other senators in sending a letter to United.”

“I am absolutely appalled on what we saw on that video. How it every got the point that United was asking law enforcement to go on a plane and physically remove a passenger who had paid his ticket fee and thought he had a place on that flight is beyond me and is extraordinarily concerning,” Hassan continued.

“We’ve asked a number of questions to United, including why didn’t you deal with this before the passengers boarded? Why didn’t you offer the passengers the maximum amount allowed by law to give up their seats? They stopped at about $800 when I think they’re allowed to offer $1350. Why didn’t they try to make different arrangements for the four employees who bumped the four passengers,” Hassan added.

The senator then said that “those are all questions that the American people deserves answers to and depending on what we find out as we further investigate what happened here, I think we’ll be looking at whether we need to strengthen a flying public’s bill of rights because what happened absolutely is unacceptable and outrageous.”

The so-called Airline Passenger Bill of Rights was put into effect seven years ago by the U.S. Department of Transportation. But those rules don’t include a ban against dragging a passenger off a flight if he or she refuses to be bumped from an overbooked flight.

Hassan made her comments as she and fellow Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen took questions from reporters at the Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) in Concord. The two senators highlighted the positive impact Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) have had in the Granite State and touted their commitment to protecting funding for the program.

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