Your Rights on the Not-so-Friendly Skies

A man was dragged from his seat on a United Airlines flight by airport security officers. Footage taken by another passenger shows the officers forcibly removing the man and dragging him by his arms down the aisle and out of the plane. The man was pulled out because he refused to leave the flight to make room for United Airlines employees after airline personnel asked him to involuntarily exit the plane. The federal Transportation Department is investigating United Airlines to determine whether the company followed proper procedure in removing passengers from an overbooked flight.

According to federal law, if a passenger is delayed by more than 1 hour, he or she is entitled to 200 percent of the one-way ticket price, up to $675. If a passenger is delayed by more than 2 hours due to an involuntary removal, then the airline is supposed to pay 400 percent of the fare to either the destination or the first stop, up to $1,350. So, given that the United flight in question may have cost $221 – based on prices for similar flight paths at similar times – the passengers may have been entitled to at least $884. And given that some passengers may have had more expensive tickets, the compensation could have reached the limit of $1,350. Of course, as is clear from this incident, that doesn’t solve all the problems.

Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the U.S. Department of Transportation handles complaints. You can file a complaint, comment or inquiry electronically on

If you or a loved one is injured by any airline employee, or if you have questions about your rights as a passenger, call Bache & Lynch at 293-5300.