New Jersey senators push for new laws to hold airlines accountable for travel concerns

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, May 1, 2017
A new push to give airline passengers more protections when they fly
Michelle Charlesworth has the story

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez want new laws to hold airlines accountable for some of the biggest travel headaches: overbooking, legroom and bag fees.

"Need a checked bag? Pay a fee," Menendez said. "Need to travel with a pet? That's a fee. Want a seat next to your spouse? That's a fee."

Menendez and Booker say the infamous video of the doctor who was sitting in his seat being dragged off to make room for a United crew member has made the need for reform urgent.

"United wanted its employees to have priority over its paying passengers," Menendez said.

The Tickets Act, as proposed, would mean no more forced removal for a seat and no more cap on compensation.

There is also The Seat Act, which requires minimum standard for seat size. Four inches of legroom have disappeared over 40 years, and the seats are more narrow.

Booker stressed that overbooking is a huge issue.

"Overbooking causes over 500,00 ticketed travelers to have to change their plans ever single year," he said. "Half a million people are getting caught up in the problem of overbooking."

Passenger advocates say the problem of overbooking will never dissipate, but airlines can let the passenger know.

Douglas Kidd, of the National Association of Airline Passengers, insists that anyone who buys an overbooked flight ticket should "know immediately" that they are flying standby.

Some of the concerns expressed at the airport among passengers were that there wasn't enough legroom, overpriced beverage charges, and unexpected carry-on charges.

The Ticket Act is on the way, and The Seat Act was just introduced. Booker and Menendez say they hope for the changes to take effect this summer.