April 26, 2017

Senators Hassan, Schatz Introduce Legislation in Response to United Airlines Incident

Senators Hassan, Schatz Introduce Legislation in Response to United Airlines Incident

Transparency, Improvements, and Compensation to Keep Every Ticketholder Safe (TICKETS) Act Would Strengthen Consumer Protections for Flying Public

WASHINGTON - Today, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced legislation to strengthen consumer protections for the flying public and help prevent future incidents like the one that occurred on United Flight 3411 when a ticketed passenger was forcibly removed from the aircraft. The Transparency, Improvements, and Compensation to Keep Every Ticketholder Safe (TICKETS) Act will guarantee that a boarded passenger has the right to fly, address compensation limits for ticket-holding travelers, improve transparency, review ticket over-selling practices, and require flight crews seeking accommodations to provide more advanced notice.

In addition to Senators Hassan and Schatz, the TICKETS Act is cosponsored by Senators Markey (D-MA), Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Blumenthal (D-CT), Franken (D-MN), Van Hollen (D-MD), Casey (D-PA), and Menendez (D-NJ).The TICKETS Act has also been endorsed by Public Citizen, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting consumer health and safety.

"The horrifying incident on United Flight 3411 made clear that we need stronger consumer protections for the flying public," Senator Hassan said. "This common-sense legislation will help prevent incidents like that from happening again and help ensure that travelers are treated with greater fairness and respect by the airlines industry. I look forward to working across the aisle to improve travelling conditions for the public."

"It should go without saying that unless there is a security threat or a safety risk, paying customers should not be forcibly removed from an airplane," said Senator Schatz. "But given what happened earlier this month, we need to take action. Our bill will make sure that no matter who you are, passengers are treated with basic respect and dignity."

"The legislation introduced by Senators Hassan and Schatz is a timely and overdue step to reassert the rights and importance of the American consumer in the marketplace and in our democracy," said Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs for Public Citizen.

The TICKETS Act:

·Guarantees that a boarded passenger has the right to fly: Prohibits airlines from preventing ticket-holding passengers from flying if they have already been approved by the gate attendant to clear the boarding area and board the plane, unless they present security or health risks.

·Provides fair compensation to ticket-holding travelers: Eliminates the ceiling for compensation that may be provided to a ticket-holding passenger who is involuntarily denied boarding.

·Improves Transparency by 1) Requiring air carriers to specify on a passenger's flight itinerary and receipt its policies regarding voluntary and involuntary denial of boarding procedures, and 2) Requiring those policies to be posted publicly at each gate at the airport.

·Addresses problems associated with ticket over-selling: Requires the Secretary of Transportation to review ticket over-selling practices and consider whether the number of oversold tickets for a flight should be limited.

·Requires flight crews seeking accommodation to provide more advanced notice: Requires flight crews seeking accommodation to check in to a flight 60 minutes prior to departure.

On April 11, 2017, the Senators led a letter to United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz asking for a more detailed account of the incident, as well as the airline's policy on boarding then removing ticketed passengers to accommodate United Airlines personnel. The Senators asked for a response by Monday, April 24, 2017, which United Airlines failed to provide.

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