Licensed pilot and Managing Partner Ladd Sanger was featured in a PacerMonitor article “United Airlines’ Settlement Represents a Rare Passenger Win,” providing insight into airline passenger rights, after United Airlines struck a swift settlement with Dr. David Dao, who was forcibly removed from his seat to make room for United Airlines employees.
Though Dao’s case was highly publicized and a confidential settlement was reached seemingly overnight, most airline passengers shouldn’t hope for the same treatment should they run into problems while traveling. This is due to contracts of carriage mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. However, Sanger pointed out the contract of carriage is a contract of adhesion, meaning that passengers cannot negotiate for better terms.
After boarding an aircraft, Sanger explained that the airline must provide passengers the “highest duty of care…the airline must transport the passenger safely to their destination.”
However, airlines have done their best to protect themselves from litigation, meaning that the average person who is discriminated against or injured while boarding, traveling as passenger or exiting should not attempt or expect to settle claims without an advocate working on their behalf. “The average passenger doesn’t have the ability to evaluate a case because it’s so fact-intensive,” Sanger said. “If you have significant damages, you need to talk to someone that can help you navigate the system.”