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United Airlines won’t be fined for forcibly removing passenger from seat

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Federal officials won’t fine United Airlines over an incident in April in which a passenger was forcibly removed from his seat after the airline oversold the flight, it was revealed Wednesday.

FILE: A United Airlines plane takes off as others wait at gates at O’Hare International Airport on November 5, 2014 in Chicago. (File photo, UPI/Brian Kersey)

The Department of Transportation conducted an investigation into the incident, which was caught on video, prompting a public relations problem for United Airlines, as well as a lawsuit from the passenger, David Dao, who settled with the airline for an undisclosed amount.

Despite the backlash, the DOT told United Airlines it found no reason to issue a fine, according to a letter from May and obtained by passenger advocacy group, Flyers Rights, through a Freedom of Information Act request.

In the letter, Blane Workie, the assistant general counsel for the DOT, said the agency reviewed the protocol United Airlines followed and found minor discrepancies with how it handled an overbooking situation.

As for how Dao was treated, the physical aspect of the removal was not mentioned. Workie also said “there is insufficient evidence in the record to find that United involuntarily bumped Dr. Dao without offering them the opportunity to continue separately on Flight 3411.”

“Therefore, we conclude that enforcement action is not warranted in this matter,” he added.

But Paul Hudson, president of Flyers Rights, disagreed with the DOT’s decision and said Dao’s removal was “egregious in every sense of the word,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

“For the Department of Transportation to conclude that United Airlines’ conduct did not warrant an enforcement action is a dereliction of duty,” Hudson said.

Written by UPI writer Ray Downs

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United Airlines won’t be fined for forcibly removing passenger from seat