United Airlines announced that is has changed its passenger removal policies after an unsavory incident earlier this month when one of its paying passengers were forcibly removed from a plane because the flight was overbooked.
The airline pledged to prevent such situations from reoccurring, and if they do reoccur passengers will be given $10,000 to voluntarily give up their seats. In the case of passenger David Dao, whose removal has morphed into a PR nightmare overnight, the compensation from being removed was $1,000.
United said the personnel will be instructed to make decisions that benefit both staffers and passengers. The company’s CEO Oscar Munoz replied to a Senate inquiry into the said removal via a letter Wednesday.
In the letter, he announced 10 policy changes to prevent other passengers from being forcefully removed after refusing to give up their seats to airline staff. Security officers dragged Mr. Dao “like a sack of potatoes” off the plane, with two other passengers recording the ordeal.
The airline pledged not to force customers out unless security or safety is at stake. The company also pledged to not use so heavily law enforcement officers on its aircraft.
Another U.S. airliner, Delta recently announced to boost removed-passenger compensation to $10,000 in the wake of the incident. Delta’s initial compensation was $1,350 per passenger.
Moreover, United vowed to ensure airline staffers have booked seats at least an hour before the departure. The company wants to use an automated system that will ask travelers to voluntarily cancel their flights when flights are overbooked.
United Airlines is now struggling to restore trust among its potential customers as Mr. Dao’s removal on Apr. 9 sparked a national outrage. The company initially downplayed the incident, and then blamed the passenger for being “disruptive.” Its CEO eventually apologized for the “re-accommodation.”