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Members of Congress want answers about United incident

CHICAGO (AP) – Leaders of a key Senate committee have asked United Airlines and Chicago airport authorities to explain what led to Sunday night’s forced removal of a man from a United Express flight.

United’s explanation “has been unsatisfactory, and appears to underestimate the public anger about this incident,” four senators wrote in letters Tuesday to United CEO Oscar Munoz and Ginger Evans, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation.

“The last thing a paying airline passenger should expect is a physical altercation with law enforcement personnel after boarding, especially one that could likely have been avoided,” they said.

The senators directed most of their questions at Munoz, including queries about the airline’s policy for bumping passengers off oversold flights, and whether it makes a difference that passengers have already boarded the plane, as happened on the United Express plane in Chicago.

The senators said the incident could have been prevented with better communication or “additional incentives” – an apparent suggestion that United didn’t offer passengers enough compensation to voluntarily give up their seats.

The letter was signed by the four top-ranking members of the Senate Commerce Committee — Republican chairman John Thune, Republican aviation subcommittee chairman Roy Blunt and the two senior Democrats, Bill Nelson of Florida and Maria Cantwell of Washington.

Congressman Andre Carson is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. In a statement, he told 24-Hour News 8 he would be looking into the incident.

As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, I am trying to get all the facts possible so that we learn what actually happened, and, in what order the events unfolded.   It certainly appears that proper protocols were not followed, because no passenger should ever be injured for simply refusing to give up a seat they purchased. While I appreciate the need for an airline to move its crew and to ensure safe operations on its flights, passengers rights must be respected as well. In the coming weeks, I will be looking into the details of what went wrong to ensure that this type of unfortunate situation does not happen again.’

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