USA lawmakers to grill United Airlines on passenger removal

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Top US airline executives have been warned by Washington they must improve customer services or face congressional intervention after a passenger was dragged from a United Airlines flight in an incident the company's chief executive called a "mistake of epic proportions".

United and other airlines have announced policy changes regarding overbooked flights.

Eight of the House's ten 10 recipients of airline transport campaign contributions in 2016 are on the Transportation Committee, including Shuster, the panel's top Democrat, Rep. Peter DeFazio of OR, and the chairman of its aviation subcommittee, Rep. "Seize this opportunity, because if you don't we're going to act and you're not going to like it".

"It's important for American to take responsibility when we don't handle things well", she said.

The tense House of Representatives committee hearing signaled how Congress might respond to rising consumer anger over cost-cutting by airlines that boiled over after David Dao, 69, was violently dragged from a United flight at a Chicago airport on April 9 to make room for crew members.

The settlement announcement came on the same day that United Airlines revealed some big policy changes, including raising the maximum incentive for a passenger to give up their seat when a flight is overbooked to $10,000. "This is a turning point for all of us at United and it signals a culture shift toward becoming a better, more customer-focused airline". "It is my mission to ensure we make the changes needed to provide our customers with the highest level of service and the deepest sense of respect".

"We need a consistent, uniform, comprehensive, clearly written set of passenger rights for USA airlines", McGee said.

In the case of the Dao incident, Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., told Munoz "you made your problem your customer's problem ... putting the solution on the customer".

Most cases of bumping passengers at United occur because of operational issues - such as weight restrictions that require leaving some seats empty - instead of overbooking, said Kirby.

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Dao and United reached an undisclosed settlement last week.

Munoz was joined at the hearing by United President Scott Kirby and executives from American Airlines (AAL.O), Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) and Alaska Airlines (ALK.N).

Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, a Republican, said in opening the hearing that Congress will take action if airlines do not act and added they "would not like the outcome".

"What happened on United Express flight 3411 can not happen again", said Rep. Rick Larsen, a Washington Democrat who is his party's senior member on the committee's aviation subcommittee. Munoz will be the star witness as Congress examines customer service by US airlines and how air travel can be improved. Second, United rebooked crew at the very last minute.

Lawmakers griped about crammed flights, confusing pricing policies for food and bags and excessive fees for customers who change flights.

The executives did have their allies, who blamed government overregulation for creating some of the problems and Dao for not listening to aviation security officers who ordered him to leave the flight.

American Airlines Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Kerry Philipovitch, second from the left, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, before a House Transportation Committee oversight hearing.

The transportation panel is holding a hearing on airline service after a passenger was forcibly removed from a United flight last month.

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