After the controversial decision to forcibly remove a boarded passenger from Flight 3511, United Airlines has changed their policy with respect to overbooked flights. Though the internet had a field day with humorous memes and the “new slogans” campaign for United, what occurred was not a laughing matter. Dr. David Dao, the passenger who was dragged from the aircraft involuntarily, suffered multiple injuries during the exchange. The incident sparked an outrage that was further exacerbated by United CEO Oscar Munoz’s form-letter apology and choice of words in his public statement.
Customers and others, fueled by their shock and rage at the video footage captured by witnesses on the flight, vowed to boycott the company. As the video circulated and more details emerged, we learned that Dao is a doctor and was headed to Kentucky. Instead, he suffered a concussion, a broken nose, and lost two teeth. Several of the other passengers expressed their concerns and general feeling of disturbance witnessing the incident firsthand. Even children on the aircraft were crying as Dao was dragged away, confused and frightened by the violent display by officers. Authorities with the Chicago Department of Aviation stated that what occurred, “was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department.” The way the situation was handled was unconscionable and forced the company to examine and change the way these situations are handled in the future. So, what is United going to do about it?
My team and i have arranged new personal flights home outside of using @united tonight. Horrible Company.— Taylor Caniff (@taylorcaniff) April 10, 2017
United Airlines now has a policy in place to prevent their staff from taking the seats of passengers who have already boarded a flight. According to a statement made to the New York Times by United spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin, the company “issued an updated policy to make sure crews traveling on our aircraft are booked at least 60 minutes prior to departure. This is one of our initial steps in a review of our policies.”
While it may be necessary for must-ride employees to bump passengers from a flight, this should only occur with passengers who have not boarded a flight before the cutoff now set forth by the new policy. Why this was not in place prior to this event is anyone’s guess, but as usual, it takes some sort of catastrophe or unjust act for corporations to act.
United isn’t the only airline making a change. Other major airlines have followed suit. American Airlines vowed to never bump a passenger once they are seated on a flight and Delta will now offer passengers up to $10,000 to give up a seat if needed.
The policies do not take away what happened to Dr. David Dao, but hopefully they can prevent situations from escalating to the point of violence in the future.