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 yesterday 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 traveling for work to check in sooner. For United, the timing of the viral video could hardly have been worse. The airline struggled badly after a 2010 merger with Continental, enduring several technology breakdowns that angered customers. Instead of being commended for those signs of progress, however, it has faced more than two weeks of withering criticism and mockery. David Dao, the passenger injured when he was yanked from his seat, is almost certain to file a lawsuit.