United Airlines changes crew flight policy after forcible removal fiasco
Airline says it will ensure off-duty crew are allocated seats an hour in advance to avoid customers being turfed off flights
United Airlines is changing its policy on booking crew on flights in the wake of a passenger being dragged off an overbooked plane.
David Dao, who suffered a concussion and broken nose and lost two front teeth in the incident last Sunday, was forcibly removed from a flight to make way for a United crew member.
The airline said it would ensure that off-duty crew travelling on its aircraft were allocated seats at least one hour before departure to avoid customers being turfed off flights after boarding.
The new rules come as pressure mounts on United to improve its customer service record.
Last month the airline was embroiled in a high-profile row after a gate agent stopped two girls from boarding a flight because they were wearing leggings.
Smartphone video of Dao, a doctor, resulted in a PR disaster for United after he refused to give up his seat on the plane at OHare international airport in Chicago.
Footage revealed him screaming before being knocked out as he was dragged along the aisle while fellow passengers looked on and protested.
All passengers on United Express flight 3411 will be compensated equal to the cost of their tickets and could take the compensation in cash, travel credits or miles, United said this week.
The airline, whose advertising slogan is fly the friendly skies, was also ridiculed on social media as the incident became a symbol of growing discontent with the way some air passengers are treated.
Daos lawyer, Thomas Demetrio, said United added insult to injury by also losing his clients luggage.
The airline said the change to its employee booking policy was an initial step as it reviewed policies to deliver the best customer experience.
Demetrio has said that Dao was likely to sue the airline.
The board of United Continental said the company had to devise policies to win back customer trust and apologised to Dao and his family.
It added that it stood behind its chief executive, Oscar Munoz, who was heavily criticised for his initial response to the matter. He had said that Dao had been disruptive and belligerent and told the airlines employees that they had followed established procedures.