United Airlines Tries To Entice Flyers Back With New Policy Announcement

United Airlines made an important statement on Thursday as it released a report detailing the errors that led to the shocking incident on April 9.

Following the outrage over Dr. Dao being violently dragged on his back out of the plane, United says it’s making huge changes.

The New York Post reported that customers will be paid $10,000 to give up their seats on oversold flights. On reading the fine print it appears that while the compensation limit will be raised to $10,000, this is a maximum and it’s unclear how many passengers, if any, would be paid that much money.

At the moment the limit is $1,350. Last month Delta Airlines raised its upper limit to $9,950.

United Airlines has also vowed to drastically reduce, but not completely eliminate, overbooking. The airline hasn’t revealed whether ticket sales have dropped since Dr. Dao was forcibly removed from the plane by three airport security officers, but United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, does admit the incident could be extremely damaging to their bottom line.

“I breached public trust with this event and how we responded. People are upset, and I suspect that there are a lot of people potentially thinking of not flying us.”

United Airlines has also announced that police will no longer be called to remove passengers from overbooked flights, and that airline crews who are traveling for work will be required to check in sooner.

Other new policies revealed by United Airlines include sending crewmembers or displaced passengers to nearby airports, arranging for car transportation, or putting them on other airlines to ensure they reach their destination. In addition, gate agents will receive annual refresher training in how to deal with oversold flights. Agents and flight attendants will receive more training on how to de-escalate tense situations.

In 2010, United Airlines merged with Continental, and since that time the airline has struggled. There have been several technology breakdowns which angered customers; however, over the past year the airline has lost fewer bags and flown more on-time flights. In fact, it was recently revealed that United Airlines had plans to expand its service this summer.

Unfortunately, United never got a chance to bask in the glow of its newfound popularity, and instead has faced three solid weeks of anger and criticism. And, while it was thought to be highly likely that Dr. Dao would file a lawsuit against the airline, it appears that the matter has settled out of court.

Munoz has again apologized and blamed the backlash received by the airline on his initial response. At that time he called Dao belligerent while defending airline employees. He said that, instead of expressing his shock, he got “caught up in facts and circumstances” that weren’t initially clear.

“That first response was insensitive beyond belief. It did not represent how I felt.”

New details have been released about the incident that occurred on flight 3411 to Louisville, Kentucky. Apparently, the flight was oversold by one ticket and a volunteer gave up his seat. Then, four crew-members from Republic Airline arrived late after their plane bound for Louisville was delayed due to mechanical problems. Munoz said that, in hindsight, it was a mistake to let the Republic crew board late, because four paying passengers were required to leave the plane, police officers were called when in fact there was no security or safety issue, and volunteers were not offered enough money to entice them to give up their seats.

“We could have spent a lot of $10,000s and made that thing right.”

Even though both CEO Munoz from United airlines and CEO Ed Bastian from Delta believe that overselling flights is a valid business process, politicians in Washington have called for a ban on overselling flights.

Thomas Demetrio, Dr. Dao’s attorney, says that, at the very least, “overbooking needs to be softened.”

“People really do believe when they buy their ticket they are good to go.”

The Huffington Post reported that United’s new policies are part of a broader plan to improve customer experience.

The memo from United airlines has outlined 10 new ways in which United will change its business practices; the most drastic being the maximum $10,000 payment offered to passengers who volunteer to give up their seats.

The Huffington Post understands that passengers aboard Flight 3411 were offered $400, then $800 to forfeit their seats, but nobody volunteered. It was at that time that Dr. Dao, who was already seated on the plane, was randomly chosen to forfeit his seat.

Two senators have now introduced a Bill designed to prevent future instances like the United Airlines incident from ever happening again. The intended new legislation would ensure that, once passengers have boarded a plane, they can’t be prevented from flying unless there is a health or security risk.

[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]