U.S. Senators decry state of air travel after passenger incidents
Air travel in the United States has become a combustible mix in which passengers aren’t the only ones treated unfairly, senators were told Thursday. Travellers all too frequently take out their frustrations on airline employees, including flight attendants and gate agents, speakers said at a Senate hearing.
Senators from both parties said airlines must improve the way they treat their passengers, but they also said airline employees must be treated with respect. Lawmakers also revived talk of a congressionally imposed “Passenger Bill of Rights.’’
The Senate hearing comes after a passenger was dragged off a United Express flight last month and a separate incident on American Airlines in which a mother with a stroller was bullied by a flight attendant. Videos of both incidents were widely circulated on social media.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said air travellers frequently tell him they “feel like they’re being treated as self-loading cargo rather than as valued consumers.’’
Passengers are so fed up that they are becoming amateur detectives, Nelson said, using their cellphones to record incidents such as the removal of United passenger David Dao and the heated confrontation on the American flight.
Widely shared video of a bloodied Dao being dragged from the United flight, which he had refused to leave, sparked worldwide outrage and led to calls for a congressional crackdown on U.S. airlines.
“I take no pleasure in beating up the airlines, but in this case, it’s warranted,’’ said Nelson, the top Democrat on the Transportation Committee.