Re-elect Dan Lipinski Congressman

Lipinski: Let Bumped Passengers Rebook On Other Airlines


Crain's Chicago Business

Passengers who are bumped or otherwise substantially delayed because their airline messed up would get new rights under a measure U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Chicago, will offer on the House floor later today tomorrow.

With an eye toward preventing another episode like the one in which United Airlines bodily dragged a passenger off one of its planes, Lipinski's proposal would allow ticketed passengers to rebook on any other carrier without charge if they had to endure a delay of at least three hours. Passengers also would be entitled to a food voucher after four hours, and get free overnight accommodation if a delay of at least three hours occurred after 10 p.m.

To qualify under the proposal, which will be offered as amendment to the pending FAA reauthorization bill, the delay would have to be the fault of the carrier. Weather wouldn't qualify, but overbooking would, as would a computer failure, according to Lipinski. Full, detailed rules would be drafted by the FAA.

"Under this, passengers at least will know that if they're bumped, they can switch to other carriers with space," Lipinski said in a phone interview. Such arrangements used to be common among the major carriers, but only American and Delta Airlines now do so, he added.

The Southwest Side Democrat conceded that it will be "tough" to win approval of the proposal, given airline opposition. A similar move failed in committee, but additional support could surface in the "more public" floor debate, Lipinski said.

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