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It’s been a crazy few weeks for United. It started with #leggingsgate, and then #bumpgate upped the ante. The outrage toward United Airlines has been significant and widespread. The internet even saw a rash of memes after the second incident. There were even reports of people cutting up their United MileagePlus Explorer cards in half (do it….more XN seats for me).
United settles with Dr. Dao
Doctor Dao, the man who was dragged off United flight 3411 out of Chicago on April 9, has reportedly settled with United yesterday. Dr. Dao’s lawyer has said “United is to be applauded” for accepting full accountability for what happened in the incident, rather than blaming police or Dr. Dao himself.
United’s own spokespeople sounded just as happy about the agreement reached, calling it “amicable”. UNited spokesman Charles Hobart remarked that he eagerly anticipates “implementing the improvements we have announced”.
What are these announced improvements?
If you visited united.com on Thursday, you may have noticed some extra tile with the text “Actions speak louder than words”. It is a link to United’s policy changes after the incident, which include the following:
- 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.
- Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.
- Reduce the amount of overbooking.
- Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a “no questions asked” policy on lost luggage. In these instances, United will pay a customer $1,500 for the value of the bag and its contents.
You can read the full press release here.
United is basically following in Delta’s footsteps with their changes to VDB compensation (SEE: Delta has increased “voluntarily denied boarding compensation to nearly $10,000).
United is certainly moving in the right direction with these changes. The airline plans to implement some effective immediately, while the remainder will be rolled out throughout the rest of 2017.
Personally, I hope United doesn’t eliminate overbooking entirely, a change for which many people have called. Overbooking flights both helps them maximize revenue, and it also allows flexible travelers to profit from the situation.
Kudos to United for how they have handled this situation.
What do you think of United’s settlement with Dr. Dao and the policy changes they are making?
Featured image courtesy of Oliver Holzbauer under CC 2.0 license.