United Airlines to offer bumped passengers up to US$10,000 after video flak
United Airlines says it will raise the limit — to $10,000 – on payments to customers who give up seats on oversold flights and will increase training for employees as it deals with fallout from the video of a passenger being violently dragged from his seat.
United is also vowing to reduce, but not eliminate, overbooking – the selling of more tickets than there are seats on the plane.
The airline made the promises Thursday as it released a report detailing mistakes that led to the April 9 incident on a United Express plane in Chicago.
United isn't saying whether ticket sales have dropped since the removal of a 69-year-old passenger by three airport security officers, but the airline's CEO admits it could be damaging.
"I breached public trust with this event and how we responded," Oscar Munoz told The Associated Press. "People are upset, and I suspect that there are a lot of people potentially thinking of not flying us."
To head off customer defections, United had already announced that it will no longer call police to remove passengers from overbooked flights, and will require airline crews travelling for work to check in sooner. On Thursday, it added several other new policies including:
— Raising the limit on compensation to $10,000 for customers who give up their seats starting Friday. That is a maximum — it's unclear how many, if any, passengers would see that much. The current limit is $1,350. Delta Air Lines earlier this month raised its limit to $9,950.
— Sending displaced passengers or crew members to nearby airports, putting them on other airlines or arranging for car transportation to get them to their destinations.
— Giving gate agents annual refresher training in dealing with oversold flights. Munoz said he also wants agents and flight attendants to get more help at de-escalating tense situations.
While not a factor in this month's incident, United also said that starting in June it will pay customers $1,500 with no questions asked if the airline loses their bag.