Breen's bill focuses on limiting law enforcement's involvement in removing passengers and restricting the state from doing business with airlines that remove ticketed passengers. It also protects passengers from prosecution and provides for attorney fees.
Breen says the measure would prohibit that type of scenario from ever playing out again at Illinois airports. The self-proclaimed head of the “Frequent Flyer Caucus,” Breen is one of the most seasoned travelers in the General Assembly, logging tens of thousands of airline miles annually.
“When passengers take their seat on an airplane, they are entrusting our nation’s commercial airlines to deliver them safely to their destination,” said Breen. “That trust was broken last week, when a private commercial airline used government personnel to drag a peaceful passenger out of his seat. While this treatment should never happen anywhere in the country, we can't let this happen at Illinois’ most prominent passenger hub, O’Hare Airport. Passengers traveling to or through Illinois should be confident they will be protected during their time in the Land of Lincoln.”
HB 4034, filed today in Springfield, would create the Airline Passenger Protection Act. The Act would prohibit Illinois government officials from participating in the involuntary removal by force of any properly ticketed and seated airline passenger, except in certain safety situations. The Act would also forbid any Illinois government from doing business with an airline that allows a paid seated passenger to be removed to give that seat to a non-paying airline employee.
The bill also directly protects passengers from criminal charges for refusing to yield their properly occupied seats, and allows attorney’s fees for passengers who win civil lawsuits against airlines for improperly removing them from their seats.
“The treatment of the passenger in last week’s incident at O’Hare is inexcusable and must be stopped,” Breen said. “It reflected badly on the airline, the City of Chicago, and the State of Illinois.”