After the public relations nightmare that it faced following the incident with Dr. David Dao, United Airlines has promised a slew of changes. Today, the airline outlined a number of them, not only giving passengers more concrete dates as to when these changes would take effect, but offering more details, too. It was all published in the United Express Flight 3411 Review and Action Report, which also provided a full review of Dr. David Dao's incident.
According to Condé Nast Traveler, United "will increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000." That's probably the most attention-grabbing of the 10 changes that United is implementing, but after the airline had to deal with problems involving leggings, scorpions, and overbooking, it's just one step towards getting back into the public's good graces. According to United's contract of carriage, the airline previously offered up a maximum of $1,350 for anyone who volunteered to give up their seats on an overbooked flight.
CNT adds that three of the changes directly affect overbooking policies. Starting on April 28, which is also when the new $10,000 incentive for giving up a seat begins, United will no longer ask any passenger who has already boarded to get off the plane — unless there is a security threat. The airline also says that it will reduce the practice of overbooking in general to avoid these mishaps and start developing an "automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans."
That new system would ask passengers at check-in whether or not they'd be willing to give up a seat for compensation. The airline plans to integrate that into its mobile app as well as have it available at airport check-in counters. This would essentially create a silent auction for people who are willing to rebook their flights. Believe it or not, CNBC reports that Dr. Dao praised the new idea, albeit through his attorney.
"Both Dr. Dao and I applaud United for promptly addressing the many issues that have plagued passenger satisfaction in the arena of airline customer service," Thomas Demetrio, Dr. Dao's attorney, said in a statement. "All of its policy changes announced today are passenger friendly and are simple, common sense decisions on United's part to help minimize the stress involved in the flying experience."
Other additions in the report include new policies involving lost luggage and law enforcement, but those new additions pale in comparison to the possibility of a $10K payday. Don't think it's possible? One family made $11,000 from Delta by giving up seats and spending two days in an airport. That may sound like the worst vacation, ever, but that sweet payout might make up for it.