People were understandably outraged
The airline has finally changed their policy for displacing passengers after David Dao, 69, was violently dragged off a plane and the video went viral online (see below.)
Having excused their action as part of their policy that allows passengers to be removed from a flight in exchange for travel vouchers if a United Airlines crew member needs the seat (and chosen at random if no one volunteers), it seems that now the policy will ‘make sure crews travelling on our aircraft are booked at least 60 minutes prior to departure to ensure situations like Flight 3411 never happen again.’
Other airlines are following suit with Delta Airlines apparently offering up to $10,000 to passengers if they require them to give up their seats on a flight that’s been overbooked.
United Airlines responded to the incident with a statement from CEO Oscar Munoz saying: ‘That is not who our family at United is. You saw us at a bad moment. This can never, will never happen again on a United Airlines flight … that’s my promise.’
On April 11th, we wrote…
You probably woke up to a social feed overcome with abuse towards air carrier United Airlines, right?
Well, after the United Airlines dress code drama last month, it seems the company have overstepped the mark again by not only overbooking their flight (which is a common practice in airlines) but by forcibly removing a passenger off their seat to allow flight attendants to seat down in their place.
Footage of the incident was recorded by fellow passengers of the man being violently dragged off the flight. The man did not want to volunteer to take a later flight as he claimed he was a doctor and had patients to see the next day.
He was filmed being dragged away, saying ‘I want to go home. I want to go home,’ while blood was flowing down his chin.
Now, many people are boycotting the airline after an employee letter was leaked showing that four passengers would need to be removed from the flight from Chicago to Louisville to make room for employees from a partner airline.
A spokesperson for United Airlines has issues the following statement:
‘We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation) and when we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions.
He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.
The airline had at first asked for volunteers to give up their seats for the airline staff, offering $400 (£322) and then when no one came forward $800 (£645) per passenger. When no one agreed to leave the flight, United selected four passengers at random.’
It should be said that airlines are legally allowed to sell more tickets than they actually have seats on a plane because often people don’t show up. And it is common practice that airlines will offer travel vouchers and/or compensation to encourage people to get on another flight to make space.
But, the reason this particular incident has made headlines was because of the treatment of the passenger who did not want to be in this position and was chosen at random before being handled violently and unacceptably.
Considering that last year, a total of 3,765 people were forced off United Airlines flights (and 62,895 volunteered to leave), it seems that this is a big problem for the airline and one that should be dealt with more delicately.