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Congresswoman Grace Meng

Representing the 6th District of New York

Meng Sends Letter to United Airlines CEO About Forcible Removal of Passenger in Chicago

Apr 11, 2017
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) today sent the following letter to United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz about the forcible removal of a United Airlines passenger in Chicago. The text of the letter is below and a copy of the correspondence can be found here.
 
April 11, 2017
 
Mr. Oscar Munoz
Chief Executive Officer
United Airlines, Inc.
PO Box 06649
Chicago, IL 60606-0649
 
Dear Mr. Munoz:
 
I write to express my shock at the manner in which your airline forcibly removed a passenger from United Express Flight 3411 at O’Hare International Airport this past weekend.  I also write to relay my astonishment as to your public response to the situation thus far.
 
According to 14 CFR 250.3, every airline is required to “establish priority rules and criteria for determining which passengers holding confirmed reserved space shall be denied boarding on an oversold flight”.  In an e-mail you sent toUnited Airlines employees last night, however, you stated that: “after United Express Flight 3411 was fully boarded...we sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process.”  You also stated: “Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this” and “Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are.” 
 
Frankly, the incident that occurred this past Sunday was not an “involuntary denial of boarding”. The passenger you forcibly injured and then removed from United Express Flight 3411, by definition, was not denied boarding.  His presence in a seat, for which he had purchased a ticket, which you accepted, means he had boarded the flight.  What this passenger endured was a forcible removal, without cause, in violation of an agreed upon contract of carriage.  I think it reprehensible, and certainly not an example of treating customers “with [the] respect and dignity” that you profess.  
 
The Chicago Department of Aviation easily recognized this simple fact which is why they have publicly stated the following: “The incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department.  That officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation.”
 
Given your claim that United followed its involuntary denial of boarding process, I request an official copy of the established process, and direction to the portions that permit: 1) boarding of a plane as part of your denial of boarding process, 2) forcible removal of boarded passengers as part of your denial of boarding process, and 3) physical injury to boarded passengers as part of your denial of boarding process.  Additionally, I request direction to the portion of your contract of carriage that allegedly allows such actions to occur.
 
I eagerly await your response within five business days.
 
Sincerely,
 
Grace Meng
Member of Congress