The forced removal of Dr. David Dao from a United Airlines flight in Chicago last month — and the graphic video of the incident — have prompted a series of promises to improve airline passenger service.
Southwest Airlines promised to do away with overbooking. United Airlines vowed to never remove a paying passengers from a seat, except in cases of safety or security. Delta Air Lines has given its gate officials the green light to spend up to $10,000 to entice passengers to voluntarily give up a seat on an overbooked flight.
In the latest change following the Dao incident, Chicago aviation officials said during testimony before a U.S. Senate committee Thursday, that neither Chicago police nor aviation security officers will board a plane to deal with a customer service dispute.
In the Dao case, three aviation security officers dragged him from his seat after he refused to give it up to make room for United crew members. The three officers and a supervisor were placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation.
During testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's subcommittee on aviation operations, safety, and security, Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans said "that a passenger at one of our airports was injured in this way is deeply saddening and personally offensive."
Evans said the aviation security officers involved in the fracas are primarily trained to check the identification of people entering secure areas of the airports.
But the union representing the security officers shot back, saying the employees are trained as law enforcement officers with full police powers and are now being treated as scapegoats.
"United Airlines, the Chicago Department of Aviation, and elected officials need to take a hard look at the mismanagement that surrounded the incident rather than resorting to shifting the blame onto the 300 men and women who serve and protect the traveling public every day," SEIU Local 73 trustees Dian Palmer and Denise Poloyac said in a statement.