United CEO fields questions from committee after dragging incident

- For four hours, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz and other airline executives fielded questions from the House Transportation Committee, on everything from baggage fees to unruly passengers, to frequent flyer plans. 

Munoz apologized repeatedly for United's role in dragging Dr. David Dao from Flight 3411 at O’Hare Airport last month.

“No customer or individual should ever be treated the way Mr. Dao was, ever, and we understand that,” Munoz said.

Committee members wondered how United's policies led to aviation security officers dragging Dr. Dao off the plane, so an airline employee could have his seat. Dao suffered a broken nose, a concussion, and lost a few teeth.

“How did you make the decision that this gentleman should be removed from the plane? And he was traveling with his wife, so was she not part of the equation?” Rep. Frederica Wilson (D)-Fla asked.

One Congressman, however, said Dr. Dao did bear some responsibility for what happened.

“A grown man, assumedly sane, when approached by law enforcement on an aircraft should abide by the request being made,” Rep. Todd Rokita (R)-Ind. said.

An American Airlines executive also apologized for a male flight attendant who verbally abused a female passenger and then got into an angry confrontation with another passenger who intervened. Many committee members, most of them frequent flyers themselves, told their own horror stories.

“I've had the counter clerk be so hostile to me the point where she says ‘don't ask me any more questions, i just don't know.’” Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D)-Mi. said.

United reached a settlement with Dr. Dao last week but the terms of the settlement have not been revealed. The airline has promised to reduce overbooking. Southwest Airlines said it plans to eliminate overbooking altogether.

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