United Airlines has adopted a new policy where customers can now be offered up to $10,000 if bumped from a flight. The new policy also prohibits bumping customers who are already seated on the aircraft and will change the way it handles overbooking and booking members of the crew. These changes arose from the PR nightmare earlier this month when a doctor was dragged from his seat and suffered multiple injuries, including a concussion and broken teeth. The man, Dr. David Dao, intends on suing the airline.
Among the new policies that have already gone into effect or will this week:
• United will offer up to $10,000 to customers who volunteer to give up their seat on an overbooked flight. In the incident involving Dao, he and other passengers were offered $800.
• Passengers who are on board and in their seat cannot be removed from a flight unless there is a safety or security issue.
• United will reduce the amount of overbooking, especially on last flights of the day, to a particular destination or on those flights on which passengers tend not to volunteer to give up their seat.
• United is creating a new app for crews to use when handling customer issues.
• United crews will be booked onto flights at least an hour before departure, unless there are open seats.
In addition, the airline says it will provide annual training for gate agents so they can better handle the most difficult situations involving customers.
On the flight Dr. Dao was removed from, customers were only offered $800 to give up their seat. There were no takers, so the airline randomly selected four people to be bumped from the flight. When Dao refused to leave, he was dragged off.
It's probably going to take United quite a bit of time to save its image after this, but this is definitely a good start. This whole controversy could have been avoided if the airline had offered people more money in the first place--everyone has a breaking point, and clearly $800 wasn't enough. I'm willing to bet that people would be far more likely to change their travel plans for $10,000, though.