Business & Lobbying

Christie calls for feds to ‘immediately suspend’ rule allowing airlines to overbook flights

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), a close ally of President Trump, is calling on the Transportation Department to “immediately suspend the federal regulation” allowing airlines to overbook flights amid outrage over United Airlines’ physical removal of a passenger from a packed plane. 

“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 wrote in a Tuesday letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The letter said Christie is reviewing how New Jersey can curb this “abusive practice,” but it also calls on the White House to end the regulation, claiming that the federal government can deal with it “most immediately.” 

{mosads}“I know the Trump administration wants to reform regulations to help the American people. This would be a great place to start,” the governor adds.

Christie, one of the first 2016 presidential candidates to endorse Trump, is the least popular governor in the U.S., according to a Tuesday survey.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz initially apologized in a Monday statement for having to “re-accommodate these customers” after widespread outcry about how the company treated a passenger, who was dragged bleeding from his seat.

“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers,” Munoz said. 

Hours after issuing his statement, a leaked email to his employees showed Munoz defending his employees’ actions. 

“As you will read, the situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact the Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help. Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this,” Munoz wrote, referring to the security guards who violently dragged a passenger from his seat.

The company’s leader then issued a new apology Tuesday assuming responsibility for the incident.  

“Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way,” he wrote. 

The airline reportedly offered $800 as compensation for individuals who voluntarily gave up their seats due to an overbooked flight, but not enough people offered do so. As a final resort, the airline decided to select passengers to deplane. Security guards then violently dragged a man, who was selected to deplane at random, out of his seat when he refused to leave.

Christie joins other outraged lawmakers who are criticizing the airline’s conduct and even calling for an investigation into their conduct and their overbooking practices. 

Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.) said Tuesday United Airlines “should be ashamed and embarrassed” by how it treated the passenger, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also requested Tuesday a federal investigation into United Airlines following the incident. 

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