United Airlines will now offer passengers up to $10,000 for giving up their seats on overbooked flights in the wake of a forced removal of a passenger earlier this month.
On Thursday, the airlines announced 10 changes to improve the customer experience as a “result of United’s thorough examination of its policies and procedures, and commitment to take action.”
United vows to:
- Limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.
- Not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.
- Increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000.
- Establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportations to get customers to their final destination.
- Ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
- Provide employees with additional annual training.
- Create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.
- Reduce the amount of overbooking.
- Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.
- Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a “no questions asked” policy on lost luggage.
The new policy comes after a passenger was forcibly removed from a United flight after he was asked to give up his seat due to “overbooking.”
A video taken by another passenger went viral as security agents dragged a screaming passenger from the overbooked flight, leaving him bloody and disoriented. According to Dr. David Dao’s lawyer, Dao suffered a significant concussion, a serious broken nose, injury to the sinuses and he lost two front teeth.
“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,” United’s CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement.
“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.”
The Dao incident came two weeks after United Airlines prevented two 10-year-old girls from boarding a flight because they were wearing leggings.
And most recently, a giant rabbit being transported on one of its planes died in the cargo hold while traveling on a flight from London’s Heathrow airport to Chicago’s O’Hare.
The increased compensation offer comes two weeks after Delta announced it would give up to $9,950 to travelers who agree to give up their seats on overbooked flights.