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Know Your Rights As An Airline Passenger

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation is investigating the way a passenger was dragged off a United Airlines flight.

That passenger, Dr. David Dao, is still in the hospital. In a statement his attorneys said his family is "appreciative of the outpouring of prayers, concern and support they have received."

On Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie asked the Secretary of Transportation to suspend overbooking until a review can be conducted, calling the practice abusive. United apologized for the incident, saying "it's never too late to do the right thing."

More than 2 million people fly every day, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, and each one of those passengers has rights when it comes to tickets, delayed and canceled flights, and overbooking.

That's what happened on a United flight Sunday leaving Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Dr. David Dao was dragged off the plane after passengers were picked at random to be removed from the flight to make room for four airline employees.

According to the Department of Transportation, when bumping occurs airlines are required to ask people to give up their seats voluntarily, in exchange for compensation. It should happen at the check-in or boarding area. DOT does not dictate what compensation airlines offer, but passengers should be told what it will be.

When there is involuntary bumping:

"DOT requires each airline to give all passengers who are bumped involuntarily a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides who gets on an oversold flight and who doesn't."

The DOT website offers scenarios for compensation based on what you paid for a ticket, with a $1,350 maximum, along with conditions and exceptions. It goes on to explain that some airlines bump passengers with the lowest fares first, others bump the last passengers to check in.

The Fly Rights does not cover best practices if a passenger doesn't want to be bumped.

United's CEO said the company will review its policies for incentivizing volunteers, how they handle oversold situations and how they partner with airport authorities and law enforcement. They will report their findings by the end of the month.


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