United CEO Oscar Munoz (1st L) testifies before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on customer service policies on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, on May 2, 2017. Major U.S. airlines were grilled at a heated hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, as lawmakers were pressing for better protection and service of aviation customers after a passenger was violently dragged off a United flight last month. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)
WASHINGTON, May 2 (Xinhua) -- Major U.S. airlines were grilled at a heated hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, as lawmakers were pressing for better protection and service of aviation customers after a passenger was violently dragged off a United flight last month.
The U.S. airline industry's overbooking and bumping policies have come under intense fire following the United incident which sparked global outrage.
David Dao suffered from a concussion and two broken teeth when being dragged off the flight since the airline needed to make room for crew members. He has reached a settlement with the airline later last month.
United CEO Oscar Munoz on Tuesday apologized again to Dao before the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with the House of Representatives.
"We had a horrible failure three weeks ago. It is not who we are," Munoz said. "We are here to talk about certain issues that won't happen again. We will work incredibly hard to earn - not your business necessarily - but your trust."
During the hearing, the United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines agreed to shorten their lengthy customer service contracts, which customers must agree to whenever they book a ticket.
United's contract is 46 pages with more than 37,000 words, while Alaska's is 67 pages and over 37,000 words long. The lengthy documents are also too complicated for the average person to comprehend.
Alaska agreed to reduce it to one page, while the other three airlines promised they will work to simplify their contracts.
However, the airlines' commitment to change is believed small in comparison with their service problems.
House lawmaker Peter DeFazio, a Democrat, lamented a deterioration in airline service with crowded planes, narrow seats and breakdowns such as when computer failures strand thousands of passengers at a time.
"Tempers are short everywhere," DeFazio said at the hearing.