TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday called on the U.S. Department of Transportation to stop allowing airlines to overbook flights and remove passengers – after a man was dragged off a United Airlines plane this past weekend.
Christie asked Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to suspend the federal regulation that allows overbooking and the removal of passengers until a thorough review can be conducted.
Christie specifically referenced the incident on the United plane this past Sunday at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, and noted that United controls 70 percent of the flights in and out of Newark Liberty International Airport.
“This conduct is abusive and outrageous. The ridiculous statements, now in their third version, of the CEO of United Airlines displays their callousness toward the traveling public with the permission of the federal government,” Christie said in the letter. “I know the Trump Administration wants to reform regulations to help the American people. This would be a great place to start.”
Christie also wrote that New Jersey is examining ways it could end the practice on a state level, though he said the federal government can deal with it most immediately.
Video of the incident shows three security officials dragging a passenger down the aisle by his arms from United Airlines flight 3411, the man screaming when he was pulled from his seat.
United has said that the incident came after the flight to Louisville, Kentucky, was overbooked and airline officials asked for volunteers to get off the plane.
When none of them did, the airline told four passengers who were selected at random that they had to get off the plane. Three of them did but the fourth refused. United called the Chicago Department of Aviation security officers, who came aboard the plane and dragged him away.
In the video, other passengers on Flight 3411 are heard saying, “Please, my God,” ”What are you doing?” ”This is wrong,” ”Look at what you did to him” and “Busted his lip.”
United chief executive officer Oscar Munoz sent a note to employees Tuesday afternoon apologizing for the incident, writing, “I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.”
“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” Munoz continued. “I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again.”
He added the airline will conduct a “thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement.”
A day earlier, Munoz had issued a letter defending his employees, saying the passenger was being “disruptive and belligerent.”
Chicago’s aviation department also said the security officer who grabbed the passenger had been placed on leave.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)