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United Plans To Reduce Overbooking Flights, Offer Up To US$10,000 To Forfeit Seats

The new policies are part of a broader plan to "improve customer experience."

27/04/2017 6:58 PM AEST | Updated 07/09/2017 6:50 AM AEST

Nearly three weeks after a United Airlines passenger was violently dragged off a plane so the company’s employees could travel instead, the embattled firm has released a set of new policies aimed at “improving customer experience.”

The memo, which was released on Thursday, outlines 10 new ways in which United will change its business practices. The most drastic overhaul comes in the amount in incentives the airline will offer passengers who volunteer to give up their seats, now set at up to $10,000. 

The new amount is on parity with Delta, which announced the increase in reward money just days after disturbing videos of 69-year-old Dr. David Dao being aggressively removed from a United flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky. United offered passengers aboard flight 3411 $400, then $800 to forfeit their spots, but still nobody volunteered. Dao was chosen at random to give up his seat after already boarding the plane.

United CEO Oscar Munoz, who has been the head of the company through several PR disasters of late, said the new procedures came out of a review of this month’s incident involving Dao, which sparked international outrage.

“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,” he said in a statement. 

The airline also vows to “reduce the amount of overbooking flights” and “limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.”

Two senators introduced a bill aimed at preventing future scenarios like the United seats fiasco from happening again. The new legislation would make it so airlines cannot prevent passengers from flying once they’ve already boarded the plane, unless there is a security or health risk. 

CLARIFICATION: Language has been updated to reflect the $10,000 limit is for “compensation incentives,” according to United, not necessarily cash. 

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