New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday he has asked President Donald Trump’s administration to prevent airlines from overbooking flights until new guidelines are set after a United Airlines passenger was recently dragged off a plane after refusing to voluntarily give up his seat.
Video of a passenger being dragged off a flight with a bloodied nose and leaving him dazed in the process has gone viral online, attracting tens of thousands of outraged posts. He was removed because the airline overbooked the flight — a common practice in which airlines sell too many tickets with the assumption that some people will not show up for a flight or that other customers will volunteer to depart later.
“This is unacceptable – to have somebody pay for a ticket, reserve a seat, be seated and dragged off the plane physically by law enforcement officers by the direction of United. It’s outrageous,” Christie told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” “That’s why I’ve asked the Trump administration to stop overbooking until we set rules how the airlines can conduct themselves.”
Christie did not say if the administration responded to his request, but said he had yet to hear back from United officials about his concerns.
“I tell you, I hear these stories over and over again at Newark International Airport about how awful united treats their customers,” said Christie, a former federal prosecutor who previously headed President Donald Trump’s transition team.
United staff “shouldn’t take precedence over the people who are paying,” said Christie, adding, “That’s why I think that the federal Department of Transportation has to stop the overbooking rules and give them latitude and take a breath.”
“Passengers are fed up and they should be,” he continued.
Christie said finding a solution so that this does not happen in the future should not be difficult.
“This is easy to fix,” he said. “The government should take a deep breath and say prove to us what these rules should be. You have obviously abused them. We are tired of having our customers and our citizens abused.”
Christie did say that despite his frustration with United, he’ll likely use the airline again in the future.
“l’ll have to. It’s 70% of the flights from Newark airport,” he said. “I am already required to fly United because of the dominance of this airline at Newark International Airport. That’s why there are so many complaints.”
When United Airlines needed extra seats on its plane Sunday night, the airline bumped an unwilling passenger, whom authorities ultimately dragged — down the aisle — off the plane.
The company has apologized for the incident. United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said the company will investigate how it moves crews and deals with oversold flights, as well as how it works with airport authorities and local law enforcement.