United Blinks, Changes Policy After David Dao Debacle

Airline says that update to policy will ensure that “situations like flight 3411 never happen again”

United Airlines has changed its booking policy after a PR nightmare caused by passenger David Dao being dragged from one of its flights.

A spokesperson for United told TheWrap in a statement that it has updated its policy to ensure that “situations like flight 3411 never happen again.”

“We issued an updated policy to make sure crews traveling on our aircraft are booked at least 60 minutes prior to departure,” the United spokesperson told TheWrap on Friday. “This ensures situations like flight 3411 never happen again. This is one of our initial steps in a review of our policies in order to deliver the best customer experience.”

Meanwhile, Thomas A. Demetrio, attorney for Dr. David Dao, tells TheWrap, “The hearing for the petition will not take place because United and the City have agreed to preserve and protect the evidence requested.”

Besides inspiring widespread outrage on social media, on talk shows, and anywhere flights are flown, the incident also sparked self-examination across the industry. The Associated Press reported Friday that Delta has dramatically increased the amount it will pay customers to surrender their seats.

The dragging video, posted early Sunday night, showed three Chicago aviation authorities speaking with Dao, who was seated on the plane. After a few seconds, the men grabbed Dao, who began to scream before being dragged by his arms toward the front of the plane. Other passengers were visibly shaken from the event. Dao, who reports suffering many injuries, is planning to sue.

A United spokesperson told TheWrap in an email Monday morning that the passenger had been taken off the flight because it was overbooked and he refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily.

“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate,” the statement read. “We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.”

Subsequent reports noted that Dao was removed from the plane to accommodate crew members who were en route to assignments.

In a statement made from his hospital bed earlier this week, Dao said, “Everything is injured,” WLKY reported.

“The family of Dr. Dao wants the world to know that they are very appreciative of the outpouring of prayers, concern and support they have received. Currently, they are focused only on Dr. Dao’s medical care and treatment,” the family’s attorney Stephen Golan said in a subsequent statement.

Dao, a physician, was attempting to fly home to see a patient in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, when he was removed from the flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this story.