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Rep. Chu Introduces SAFE SEAT Act to Protect Passengers from Overbooking and Airline Abuse

April 28, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – On April 9, David Dao, an Asian-American doctor, was forcibly dragged off of a United Airlines flight due to overbooking, sustaining serious injury. In response to the shocking incident, and the community outrage that followed, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) has introduced the Saving All Flyers from Ejection and Securing Everyone’s Access to Travel (SAFE SEAT) Act. The SAFE SEAT Act prohibits airlines from forcibly removing a passenger after boarding an aircraft unless necessary for safety or security; requires that all overbooking issues must be resolved prior to letting passengers board; and requires that before any individual is denied boarding a flight, the airline must offer the regulatory maximum amount of compensation  to anybody willing to voluntarily give up their seat. Rep. Chu released the following statement:

“Like most Americans, I was shocked and alarmed by the footage of Dr. Dao being violently dragged off a plane after he had already been allowed to take the seat he had paid for. As United has now recognized in public statements and a legal settlement with Dr. Dao, they failed their customer. But no passenger should be treated like Mr. Dao in the first place. We need to prevent the need for future apologies entirely. And that means addressing the problem of overbooking with common sense solutions.

“While I understand that overbooking flights is a part of the airlines’ internal business model, it cannot be a part of the passenger experience. Nor can it be an excuse for disruption or even violence. That is why my bill prohibits the use of force, with exceptions for safety and security, and requires airlines to resolve overbooking issues before letting passengers board. Finally, it creates an incentive for problem solving by requiring airlines to offer at least the highest amount of compensation required to passengers willing to give up their seats. I hope that we can act quickly on this measure to resolve these problems and give passengers a safer, more reliable, and more enjoyable flying experience.”