Christie to U.S.: Suspend 'bumping' from airline flights

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A United Airlines passenger plane lands at Newark Liberty International Airport Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Responding to the firestorm over a United Airlines passenger getting dragged off a plane, Gov. Christie on Tuesday asked the federal government to halt the practice of bumping passengers from overbooked flights until it can be reviewed by authorities.

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Christie said she could immediately suspend the federal regulation that allows airlines to remove passengers from overbooked flights, pending a review by the Transportation Department.

"The practice has become unconscionable by United and is abusing passengers coming through Newark Airport and around the nation without cause," Christie wrote.

"Passengers who have paid the fare for their ticket and reserved a seat should not be subject to this arbitrary 'bumping' except in the most extreme of circumstances and certainly not to accommodate employees of United Airlines."

David Dao, who was dragged from the plane Sunday, and three other passengers were asked to leave the flight from Chicago to Louisville, Ky., to clear seats for four United employees.

Video on Monday showed the 69-year-old Dao, who was on his way home to Elizabethtown, Ky., being violently removed from his seat by an aviation security officer and dragged down the aisle as other passengers express shock and horror at the situation.

"The lives of traveling New Jerseyans are being affected every day by the abusive use of this practice. As we saw in Chicago, it is happening all over the country as well. We need this administration to stand up for our traveling Americans. We need to put it to a stop," Christie wrote.

Also responding to the United controversy, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania cosigned a letter with other Democratic senators demanding answers from airline CEO Oscar Munoz about the incident and the practice of overselling tickets.

"At a time when the airline industry is earning record profits, it is our hope that the industry can make great strides to improve customer service and implement best practices," the letter said.

In January, United reported $2.3 billion in net profit from more than $36 billion in total revenue.

Last year, United forced 3,765 passengers from overbooked flights, government records show.