Airlines Around the World Highlight Passengers' Rights in Response to United Controversy
United Airlines is facing global outrage after a video showed passenger David Dao being yanked from his seat and dragged off a flight from Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Sunday to make space for four employees on the flight.
Travelers in China have been responding by calling for a boycott of the airline, according to TravelMole.
The incident has garnered the attention of over 480 million users on Weibo, a platform similar to Twitter in China, according to Reuters, with a passenger telling the publication that Dao said repeatedly that he was being discriminated against because he was Chinese.
The incident has reached Japan as well, where local airline officials told the Japan Times they would never resort to this type of violence or turn passengers away from flights without their consent.
Representatives from both All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines told the publication that when they have overbooked flights, their procedure is to continuously ask passengers to volunteer their seats in exchange for compensation.
“We would never drag our customers out of our planes…that’s unimaginable,” a spokesman from Japan Airlines told the Japan Times. “We ask passengers to voluntarily give up their seats; if nobody does, then we just keep asking until we find one."
Tetsuya Yokoi, spokesman for All Nippon Airways, echoed similar sentiments, telling the publication that the airline will ask passengers if they’re willing to give up a seat in exchange for payment, saying that the airline has never had issues finding volunteers in this case.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Marc Garneau stated that the government will be issuing a passenger rights law that will include rules regarding passengers’ rights when they are unable to board a flight because of a factor in the airline’s control.
"I certainly have seen what happened in the case of the United Airlines flight and that is why last November I announced that we would be putting in place what we call a regime of rights for passengers," Garneau said in a video published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
"We recognize that when a passenger books a ticket, they are entitled to certain rights," he said.
The new legislation is expected to be put in place by 2018. Back in 2008, Canada introduced Flight Rights Canada to highlight passenger rights related to delays, flight cancelations, and overbooking.
The code specifies that passengers who are on an overbooked or canceled flight are entitled to either a seat with another flight, a purchased seat on another carrier with which the airline has an agreement, or a refund on the ticket.
United Airline’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, issued a statement on April 11, apologizing to the customer (though his name was not mentioned).
“I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard; no one should ever be mistreated this way,” Munoz said.
The airline saw its stocks drop by a whopping $1.4 billion just three days after the incident.