WASHINGTON - Senator Maggie Hassan yesterday wrote an op-ed for the Boston Globe, alerting the public to new protections that are now in place to protect airline passengers as the busy holiday season fast approaches.
The protections are a result of legislation Senator Hassan authored following the horrific dragging incident on United Flight 3411. The TICKETS Act , which has now been signed into law as part of the bipartisan reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, establishes a right to fly and prohibits airlines from removing ticket-holding passengers from an aircraft. The bill also strengthens consumer protections by allowing fair compensation to ticket-holding travelers, improving transparency by requiring airlines to clearly disclose denial of boarding procedures and overbooking policies, and addressing problems associated with ticket over-selling.
Making Airline Travel Safe for All
By Senator Maggie Hassan
We all remember the video. A ticketed passenger was injured and bloodied as he was forcibly dragged off of United Airlines Flight 3411 to make room for United’s own staff.
Like so many Americans, I was outraged by the treatment of this passenger, and the injuries he incurred. While this incident was particularly horrific, it was a stark reminder of some of the unfair airline policies that passengers are subjected to every day.
As the holiday travel season fast approaches, new protections are now in place to help prevent another awful incident like the one we saw on Flight 3411.
Following that incident, I worked with my colleagues on the Transparency, Improvements, and Compensation to Keep Every Ticketholder Safe (TICKETS) Act, which President Trump recently signed into law as part of a larger bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration.
With the new law, every boarded passenger now has the right to fly, and airlines are prohibited from removing ticket-holding passengers from an aircraft unless they pose a security or health risk.
The TICKETS Act also has three additional provisions to protect passengers, provisions that will be implemented in the near future.
First, the new law will lift the ceiling on the amount that airlines can compensate passengers for voluntarily giving up their seats — helping to ensure that passengers are appropriately compensated if they choose to give up their seats in response to overbooking.
Second, the law requires the secretary of transportation to provide guidance on how airlines notify passengers at the check-in desk and gate about their boarding practices so that travelers know what they’ve signed up for when boarding an aircraft.
Finally, the law requires the Government Accountability Office to review airlines’ practices of overbooking their flights and to consider the impact this has on passengers and whether there should be limitations on these practices.
The TICKETS Act strengthens consumer protections and bolsters fairness, safety, and respect for those who fly. It’s an important starting point, but we have more work to do to strengthen protections for the flying public and to ensure that they are treated with the fairness and dignity they deserve.
The successful passage of the TICKETS Act is a reminder of the bipartisan work that happens in Congress every day — despite the partisanship that often dominates headlines — to make progress on priorities that impact so many Americans. I am encouraged that the president has signed this important measure into law as part of a bipartisan bill that will also strengthen aviation safety, support rural airports, and improve accessibility on aircraft for individuals who experience disabilities.
There are plenty of things to worry about when traveling, but being horribly mistreated by an airline shouldn’t be one of them. All passengers have a right to be safe and to be treated with dignity when they travel.