Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) announced plans Wednesday
to file a bill that would ban airlines from forcibly removing passengers from a
plane after boarding due to overbooking or in order to facilitate movement of
"It is outrageous that airlines can bodily remove
passengers after boarding rather than providing appropriate incentives to
encourage volunteers," Van Hollen wrote in a letter to colleagues asking
for co-sponsors. "Airlines should resolve these common overbooking issues
prior to boarding."
Van Hollen's plan to introduce what he is calling the Customers
Not Cargo Act comes on the heels of Sunday's incident in which United passenger
David Dao was bloodied and dragged down the aisle by Chicago O'Hare police
after he refused to cede his seat on a flight to Louisville to United crew.
The incident has spawned a firestorm of reaction in the U.S.
and around the world, and has thrown United into public relations crisis mode.
It has also raised questions about a federal regulation that allows airlines to
Van Hollen said his bill would direct the Department of
Transportation to update its rule related to overbooking. Under the change,
airlines would have to offer what he called "appropriate" incentives
to solicit volunteers, and they would have to do so before boarding whenever
Current law requires airlines to pay customers up to $1,350
for involuntarily bumping a passenger from a flight, depending on how much the
passenger's ticket cost and how long he or she is delayed.
Van Hollen said rules related to airline overbooking should
more generally be reexamined, but added that his bill would address the narrow
issue of forcibly removing passengers from a plane immediately.