Transport Canada mulls passenger bumping rules in wake of United incident

Transport Canada mulls passenger bumping rules in wake of United incident
Screen capture via Twitter user @JayseDavid

In the wake of the violent removal of a passenger on an overbooked United Airlines flight earlier this week, the Canadian government is planning to introduce new legislation addressing the bumping of passengers from oversold flights.

The Canadian Press reported that a spokesman for Transport Minister Marc Garneau said that rules regarding passenger bumping will be included in a passenger bill of rights, which establish clear, minimum requirements for compensation when flights are oversold or luggage lost.

Further details, such as whether compensation to bumped passengers would be increased or if the legislation would be designed to set industry standards, were not provided, the report said.

A viral video of last Sunday’s (April 9) incident captures the forcible removal of a passenger from an oversold United flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, quickly drawing criticism across social media. According to reports, the passenger was among a group selected to be bumped from the flight (which United said was based on ticket class frequent flyer status and check-in time) after no one volunteered to give up their seats. In the video, the passenger, described in reports as a doctor who told crew members he was due for a hospital shift, is seen screaming as he is removed from his seat by airport security staff before hitting his head on an armrest and being dragged down the aisle. The Guardian reported that the man was later allowed to board the plane, although the reason was unclear.

In a letter to United staff obtained by several news outlets, United CEO Oscar Munoz contended that the passenger was “disruptive and belligerent” prior to his removal, while a brief media statement from Munoz, which drew further criticism, reads:

“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”