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Minnesota senators press United Airlines on dragged passenger

FILE PHOTO: Minn. Sen. Al Franken (D). (Michael Vosburg/The Forum)1 / 2
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Both of Minnesota's senators signed their names to a letter filled with questions for United Airlines after a passenger was dragged off one of its flights on Sunday.

The letter, sent Tuesday, April 11, is signed by 21 Democratic senators, including Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and says they are "deeply concerned" about the incident.

"Consumer trust and confidence are critical to ensure this industry continues to thrive, and we hope United Airlines will work diligently to immediately address this incident and make necessary improvements to ensure it does not happen again," the letter reads, before providing a list of questions senators want answered by April 24.

The letter follows an incident Sunday in which United requested that four volunteers disembark from a full plane on the tarmac in Chicago to make room for company employees. Finding none—and no takers for financial compensation—four passengers were selected at random to give up their seats. One passenger, a doctor who said he had patients to see, was removed by force. Passenger videos of the incident show him being dragged from the plane and bleeding from the mouth.

A sampling of the senators' questions includes:

• What is United Airlines' standard operating procedure when deciding to forcibly remove passengers, including those resulting from involuntary denied boarding?

• How many times in the last year has United Airlines removed a passenger that has already boarded a plane due to overbooking or other reasons outside the customer's control? How many of these passengers were forcibly removed?

• Describe the internal investigation that United Airlines will pursue regarding this incident

• Has United Airlines implemented any policy changes as a result of this incident?

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz, to whom the letter is addressed, apologized Tuesday for the incident amid significant coverage on news outlets and an intense outcry on social media.

"I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard," Munoz said in a statement. "No one should ever be mistreated this way."

Sam Easter

Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.

(701) 780-1108
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