United Airlines executives including boss Oscar Munoz face grilling by US lawmakers over passenger removal

Rebecca Smith
United racked up the headlines after a video of the passenger removal went viral
United racked up the headlines after a video of the passenger removal went viral (Source: Getty)

United Airlines executives will today face a grilling from members of Congress about the incident involving the forced removal of a passenger from an overbooked flight last month.

Chief executive Oscar Munoz and president Scott Kirby will appear before the House Transportation Committee to explain the situation, which went viral when videos of the situation were posted online.

Read more: United Airlines will offer passengers up to $10,000 to give up their seat

Questions they will likely face include why the airline needed to bump passengers from the flight once they had already been seated and why airport security officers were called on board to remove the passenger.

Dr David Dao was dragged from an overbooked flight at a Chicago airport on 9 April after refusing to give up his seat, and suffered a broken nose and a concussion from the episode.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster said the hearing will give Committee members an opportunity to get "much-needed answers about airline customer service policies and what is being done to improve service for the flying public".

Executives from other airlines will also be present at the hearing, and will be expected to outline what actions they will take to try and prevent future incidents like the one on the United flight.

Last month, United said it will now offer up to $10,000 for customers who volunteer to give up their seat on an overbooked flight. In the incident involving the removal of Dr David Dao, passengers were offered $800.

The airline said it was intending to change its culture, implementing 10 changes, including the rule that passengers on board and in their seat cannot be removed from a flight unless there is a safety or security issue.

United also plans to cut down on the amount of overbooking.

"Our review shows that many things went wrong that day, but the headline is clear: our policies got in the way of our values and procedures interfered in doing what's right," said Munoz. "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."

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