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U.S. airlines warned that Congress will intervene if they don’t improve services

The resultant fallout from the recent physical removal of David Dao from a United Airlines flight and ‘bullying’ of a woman with a stroller by a flight attendant on board an American Airlines flight continues.
Airline chiefs, including United’s CEO Oscar Munoz, attended a four-and-a-half-hour hearing on Capitol Hill where Bill Shuster, R-Pa., House Transportation Committee Chairman, along with other lawmakers made it clear that airlines have to make changes and improve customer service, or face intervention from Congress. While Shuster provided no specific ideas of what would be involved, several other members of Congress have introduced legislation to ban the bumping of passengers on overbooked flights.
While Munoz apologized unreservedly more than once for what he called “a mistake of epic proportions” over the manhandling of David Dao, Shuster warned him, and other airline chiefs, to “seize this opportunity”, otherwise “we’re going to act and you’re not going to like it.”
United has taken a number of steps to reduce overbooking of flights subsequent to the Dao incident and intends to raise the limit on payments to passengers who give up seats on overbooked flights to $10,000, and will improve employee training. The airline has also confirmed that no passenger will be removed from a flight once seated unless for reasons of safety or security.
An American Airlines executive also apologized at the hearing for an incident where a male flight attendant reduced female passenger to the point of tears over an incident with a child’s buggy, after which he got involved in a heated confrontation with a male passenger who was attempting to come to the woman’s defense. Kerry Philipovitch, a senior vice president of American Airlines, advised that the airline is making progress in improving customer service.
Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., felt that changes announced by United and American were a good start, but stated that: “It’s got to be more than press releases. It’s got to be changes in policies and practices.”

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