United misses Senate deadline on passenger-dragging inquiry

United Airlines and the Chicago Department of Aviation are asking for more time after missing their deadline to respond to a Senate inquiry into the forcible removal of a passenger earlier this month.

Leaders of the Senate transportation committee requested answers to a number of pointed questions over the handling of the incident by Thursday. Both United and the Aviation Department missed the deadline, asking for an extra week in separate letters to the committee.

“We’re disappointed that neither United Airlines nor the Chicago Department of Aviation has yet provided substantive answers to the straightforward questions we asked about the forcible removal of a passenger on April 9, 2017,” the committee said Friday in a news release. “Getting answers for the public about what happened and what can be done to prevent such an incident from happening again is a priority for the members of our committee. We find any further delay in getting necessary answers unacceptable.”

Four senators, including committee Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., the committee’s ranking Democrat, sent letters to the airline and Aviation Department on April 11 seeking detailed explanations as to why United passenger Dr. David Dao was dragged from his seat while waiting to fly from O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Ky.

Dao was one of four passengers bumped from the United Express flight to make room for four airline employees after the airline failed to find volunteers to take a later flight.

United CEO Oscar Munoz‘s letter to the committee Thursday reiterated his apologies to Dao and all of the passengers aboard the flight who endured the “appalling” incident, which he called a “humbling learning experience.” He also asked that the response deadline be pushed back until April 27 to “ensure accuracy and thoroughness” while the airline conducts an internal review.

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