New Law Would Ban Airlines From Bumping Passengers Involuntarily

Image courtesy of frankieleon

United Airlines’ decision to forcibly remove a paying passenger to make room for an airline employee has led to increased pressure for carriers to change their policies. A new piece of legislation wants to stop make it illegal for airlines to bump a passenger without their permission.

Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky on Tuesday introduced a bill [PDF] — titled the Bumping on Overbooked Airplanes Requires Dealing Fairly (BOARD Fairly) Act — that aims to ensure incidents like the one on United Flight 3411 don’t happen again.

Under the BOARD Fairly Act, the Department of Transportation would be directed to modify its rules, banning airlines from involuntarily bumping passengers who have a confirmed seat on a flight.

This means that passengers could no longer be removed from a plane to make room for another customer or employees, except for genuine security or safety reasons.

Additionally, the rules would require all negotiations for passengers willing to give up their seats to take place before the passengers board.

If no passenger volunteers to give up their seat, the airlines would have to continue increasing the amount of compensation they are willing to pay in exchange for the traveler relinquishing a confirmed reserved space.

“My bill says no more involuntary bumping – period,” Schankowsky said in a statement. “It is time for airlines to start treating their customers with respect.”

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.