United Airlines announced a 10-point plan to improve customer service and laid out new details of the circumstances — including its own four failures — that led it to request the Chicago Aviation Authority to remove a recalcitrant passenger from a flight.
United Airlines, acknowledging that “many things went wrong” on the day a passenger was dragged off one of its flights, pledged on Thursday a sweeping series of changes for passenger protection, including up to $10,000 compensation for travelers who voluntarily give up their seat on an overbooked flight.
The move comes as the carrier has been beleaguered by a wave of negative press since a passenger was bloodied and forcibly removed from one its flights April 9. The incident on United Express Flight 3411 was captured on cellphone video and quickly went viral.
The airline announced 10 new or updated customer service polices aimed at preventing episodes such as the one that occurred on that flight and released an “action report” on how the events on that ill-fated flight unfolded..
“That breach of public trust is something we have to rework,” United CEO Oscar Munoz said in an interview with USA TODAY, calling the service changes part of an effort “to ensure this never happens again.”
Among the changes, United said that starting Friday, employees will be able to offer up $10,000 to try to entice overbooked passengers to take different flights. United also said it would reduce overbooking. The airline did not give a specific number but said in its formal Flight 3411 “Review and Action Report” that it intended to limit the practice “on flights that historically have experienced lower volunteer rates, particularly flights on smaller aircraft and the last flight of the day to a particular destination.”
United also said that effective Thursday, it will no longer attempt to involuntarily remove passengers who’ve already boarded their flights “unless safety or security is at risk.” And the carrier is making permanent a policy it adopted April 12 that it will no longer call law enforcement officers to remove passengers except for in cases of “safety and security.”
“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,” Munoz said in announcing the new policies.
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