Lawmakers threatened United Airlines and other carriers with legislation to force improvements as they expressed disgust after a passenger was dragged off an overbooked flight last month. Fred Katayama reports.
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz testified on Capitol Hill about its passenger, David Dao, who was violently dragged from a United flight at a Chicago airport last month to make room for crew members. Angry lawmakers did not hold back. Congressman Duncan Hunter: (SOUNDBITE) DUNCAN D. HUNTER, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE FROM CALIFORNIA, REPUBLICAN (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I guess, my first question was, was slightly unjust, why do you hate American people? But I'm not gonna ask that. I was gonna ask how much do you hate American people. I'm not gonna ask that either." Munoz repeatedly apologized. (SOUNDBITE) OSCAR MUNOZ, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, UNITED AIRLINES (ENGLISH) SAYING: "For our customers and our company, we failed. And, so, as CEO, at the end of the day, that is on me. And this has to be a turning point for the 87,000 people and professionals here at United." But politicians would have none of it. Congressman Mike Capuano: (SOUNDBITE) MICHAEL EVERETT "MIKE" CAPUANO, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE FROM MASSACHUSETTS, DEMOCRAT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Apology is good, and, again, I do accept it. I hope, and I believe, that it's sincere today. But, I hope, you will know that this doesn't stop today and you will be judged on how it is implemented." Joining Munoz at the hearing were executives from American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Alaska Airlines. They listened as politicians suggested slapping more regulations on the industry to force improvements in customer service. Aviation analyst Robert Mann. (SOUNDBITE) ROBERT W. MANN, JR., PRINCIPAL AT R.W. MANN & COMPANY, INC. AND AERODEVELOPMENTS, LTD. (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There are at least a few in Congress, and I had to chuckle when I listened to this, but there are at least few in Congress who understand that regulating the industry or legislating changes to the industry isn't necessarily a way to improve the customer service on the front lines." Mann says, ultimately, it's up to the airlines to solve their own problems.