HOUSTON – United Airlines is to pay up to $10,000 to passengers who voluntarily give up their seats on overbooked flights.
The change is one of 10 measures to be introduced by the US airline, which attracted widespread condemnation earlier this month when a passenger was dragged screaming from an overbooked flight.
Dr David Dao lost two front teeth and suffered a broken nose when he was forcefully removed from the aircraft by security guards to make way for crew members.
United said the changes were the result of a ‘thorough examination’ of its policies and procedures in the wake of the incident on United Express flight 3411 on April 9.
Other changes include the airline’s commitment to:
- limit the use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only
- not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seats involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk
- ensure crews are booked on to flights at least 60 minutes prior to departure
- reduce the amount of overbooking
- eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a ‘no questions asked’ policy on lost luggage.
While several of these policies are effective immediately, others will be rolled out throughout the rest of the year.
CEO Oscar Munoz said: “Every customer deserves to be treated with the highest levels of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect.
“Two weeks ago, we failed to meet that standard and we profoundly apologize. However, actions speak louder than words. Today, we are taking concrete, meaningful action to make things right and ensure nothing like this ever happens again.
“Our review shows that many things went wrong that day, but the headline is clear: our policies got in the way of our values and procedures interfered in doing what’s right.
“This is a turning point for all of us at United and it signals a culture shift toward becoming a better, more customer-focused airline. Our customers should be at the center of everything we do and these changes are just the beginning of how we will earn back their trust.”
United’s reputation took a further hit this week when it emerged that a giant rabbit being transported on one of its flights from Heathrow had died. An investigation has been launched.
The airline was also criticised on social media last month when it allegedly barred two girls from flying because they were wearing leggings. It said they were travelling on a special pass for employees and their guests and had failed to comply with the dress code.