United Airlines will offer passengers up to $10,000 (£7,700) for giving up their seats on overbooked flights as part of its efforts to repair the damage to its reputation after widespread condemnation over the forcible removal of a passenger.
An inquiry was launched after footage recorded by passengers at Chicago O’Hare airport and watched by millions globally showed David Dao, 69, being yanked from his seat on a Louisville-bound flight to make room for crew.
According to his lawyer, Dao lost two front teeth, incurred concussion and broke his nose. The Vietnamese American physician found the experience “more horrifying and harrowing” than the fall of Saigon, his lawyer said.
n Wednesday, United’s reputation suffered another blow after a potentially record-breaking giant rabbit died in its care. The 3ft (90cm) animal, called Simon, was found dead in the cargo hold when the flight arrived at O’Hare airport from London Heathrow, and an investigation has since been launched.
The offer of increased compensation came after rival Delta outlined plans to offer up to $9,950 in such cases.
United said it would “increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000”, and also promised action to reduce overbooking and improve customer satisfaction.
“Our goal is to reduce incidents of involuntary denial of boarding to as close to zero as possible and become a more customer-focused airline,” the carrier said.
United also said it would no longer call police to stop passengers boarding, nor would passengers who were seated be required to give up their place on overbooked flights.
Crews would be booked on flights 60 minutes before departure, and staff would undergo annual training to handle “the most difficult situations”, an inquiry report said.
United will also adopt a “no questions asked” policy on permanently lost baggage from June, paying customers $1,500 for the value of the bag and its contents.