United changes policy, crews no longer can displace passengers

Rodiano Bonacci
Aprile 17, 2017

Passengers arrive for flights at the United Airlines terminal at O'Hare International Airport on April 12, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.

The policy change comes in the wake of a highly publicized incident on April 9 in which a paying customer who had already boarded was violently dragged off the aircraft by law enforcement officers.

Richard Bell was a passenger on a United Airlines flight, traveling in business class from Houston to Calgary with his wife, Linda, last Sunday when he felt something fall in his hair from the overhead bin while eating dinner. Overbooking on flights happens all the time.

While the United case may not have been triggered by a normal case of overbooking, it is pushing airlines to evaluate their current systems, Harteveldt said.

Dao suffered a concussion and a broken nose, lost two teeth and needs reconstructive surgery to fix damaged sinuses, his attorney Thomas Demetrio said last week. Some 670 million people flew previous year, and the numbers work out to less than 1 in every 10,000 passengers who get bumped from an overbooked flight.

It's no surprise airlines would want to beef up the incentives for customers they need to bump from flights.

The practice has been questioned, however, since video of the United Express incident went viral. She said the change was meant to ensure that episodes like what happened last week "never happen again".

"Bell said another passenger who was Mexican told him, "'Hey, that's a scorpion, they're risky, ' ... The latest people to benefit from a battle to offer the best deal might be flight passengers, who stand to gain in a big way as competing airlines respond to United's latest incident.

Afterward, the United Airlines passenger flicked the scorpion and it fell on the floor. United Airlines has offered compensation. According to a statement from the Chicago Aviation Police Department, Dao hit his head on an armrest and was taken to the hospital.

The disturbing videos have been uploaded multiple times on YouTube, with one viewed more than 3 million times as of Saturday.

Delta Air Lines $10,000 overbooked offer and other changes being made in the industry all come because airlines are scrambling to respond properly to the public relations nightmare.

The company said it is conducting a full review.

A hearing for the petition scheduled for next week "will not take place", said Thomas Demetrio, attorney for the passenger David Dao, in an email.

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