WASHINGTON — Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) sent a letter on Tuesday to United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz, raising concerns over the violent removal of an Asian American passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 3411.
Chu also sent a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao requesting that she disclose any findings of DOT’s review of this incident. Chu released the following statement:
“I am deeply disturbed by the footage of a ticketed United Airlines passenger being forcibly removed from his flight. U.S. airlines should ensure the safety of their passengers. In this instance, the mistreatment of an Asian American passenger in order to accommodate United’s employees resulted in serious physical injury and an appalling abuse of rights. As more details regarding this incident continue to emerge – including the recent revelation that the flight was not oversold – we are left with more questions than answers.
“I sent a letter to United Airlines and the U.S. Department Transportation asking for complete clarity behind this matter, including answers as to why violent force was necessary to remove this passenger, and whether any federal laws or regulations were violated during this horrific incident. I look forward to a prompt response to these letters. No passenger should feel unsafe while flying.”
The letter to Munoz read, in part: “According to multiple news reports, this incident occurred after United Airlines attempted to bump four ticketed passengers from a Chicago to Louisville flight in order to accommodate its own employees. Four passengers, including Dr. Dao, were randomly selected for removal. However, after Dr. Dao questioned these efforts, he was aggressively thrown to the ground and dragged off the flight by aviation officials.
“United’s public response to this situation has resulted in more questions than answers. Although overbooking is a common practice among many commercial airline carriers and is not illegal, I am deeply concerned by the disturbing actions taken by United to remove Dr. Dao.
“I am also concerned by the internal memo you sent to United Airlines employees earlier this week during which you noted that crewmembers ‘followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this.’
“In order to better understand how exactly United’s ‘established procedures’ led to this disturbing treatment of a ticketed passenger, I request your response to the following questions:
“1. Under what specific conditions in United’s current procedures are violent uses of force acceptable to the airlines and aviation security personnel?
“2. Which of the aforementioned conditions were met in this situation that led to the violent removal of United Airlines passenger Dr. David Dao?
“3. Does United Airlines plan to implement any policy changes as a result of this incident?”
In her letter to Chao, Chu wrote, “While I understand that your department is currently reviewing this case, it is imperative that we have more information on the industry practices that led to this particular incident and whether these policies meet federal standards. Your department is uniquely positioned to protect passengers from such gross violations of their basic rights.
“I request that you share any findings from your review with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, including whether any federal laws or regulations were violated during this incident.”