Congress gets involved in airline passenger rights

WASHINGTON — Congress has stepped into the issue of airline passenger rights after shocking video showed a passenger being violently dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight.

Lawmakers are working on a bill that would establish more protections for travelers.

Passenger David Dao was forcibly removed last week from a United Airlines flight in Chicago in order to free up seats for airline crew members.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said it would set minimum amounts for how much an airline has to pay passengers for involuntarily bumping them and restrict kicking out passengers for crew members or premium fliers.

[RELATED: Delta will now pay passengers up to $9,950 to give up seats]

The legislation would also allow passengers to sue airlines for delays, chronically late flights or price gouging.

The attempt by Congress to set airline passenger protections might have some resistance from the airline industry.

The trade group Airlines for America said the well-being of travelers is its top priority, but unnecessarily regulating the industry could lead to higher fares for the more than 2 million passengers who fly every day.

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