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United Airlines escapes fine after dragging passenger off a plane

07 September 2017

United Airlines won't be punished by the federal government over a passenger's forced removal from a flight in April that put a spotlight on the growing tensions between airlines and travelers.

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.

Mr Dao was waiting to fly to Louisville, Kentucky, when the airline decided it needed four seats for Republic Airline crew members who needed to travel to work on another United Express flight in Louisville the next morning.

United Airlines came under fire in April after a video went viral on social media showing a 69-year-old man being dragged-off the plane because it had been overbooked.

Paul Hudson, president of Flyers Rights, criticized the federal agency's conclusions, calling the removal of Dao "egregious in every sense of the word".

According to Flyers Rights, the two page letter from Transportation Department Assistant General Counsel Blane Workie conveyed they would not be taking action against United Airlines in this instance, as the incident was not a repeated offense, nor did it egregiously violate consumer-protection laws.

The department also added that it found no proof that United discriminated against Dao, an Asian-American, on the basis of race.

She said United fixed one mistake in calculating compensation for another passenger, and failed to give Mr Dao and his wife a required written notice of their rights only because they had left the airport to seek medical help.

United apologized again on Wednesday, saying the incident "should never have happened".

"We did not review the actions of the security officers of the Chicago Department of Aviation because it is not DOT's role to investigate police conduct", the letter said.

He said the Transportation Department should have held a public hearing after finding United violated government rules.

"Therefore, we conclude that enforcement action is not warranted in this matter", Workie stated.

The article was originally published at 11:25 a.m.

United Airlines escapes fine after dragging passenger off a plane