Published on Tuesday, April 18, 2017
United Airlines has changed its company policy on employee travel so crew members will not be able to force paying customers already onboard to give up their seats.
The carrier said it has imposed a cut-off time of 60 minutes before departure for all bookings of flight crews on its own planes. Crews could previously be booked until the time of departure.
The change is part of a review of the airline's overbooking policy following global outrage of the treatment of passenger Dr David Dao, who was forcibly removed from flight 3411 in Chicago last week and suffered a broken nose and concussion.
United is also reviewing its compensation policies, according to a memo to staff.
Members of United's Mileage Plus frequent flyer programme were told about the changes in a letter signed by CEO Oscar Munoz.
In it, Munoz speaks of his 'shame' at the incident and said he wanted to apologise 'for not living up to the values you expect of us'.
"We know we did not measure up, and for that we will redouble our efforts to earn your trust," he said.
The letter explains: "First, United will not ask law enforcement officers to remove passengers from our flights unless it is a matter of safety and security.
"Second, crews traveling on our aircraft must book at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
"Third, we will fully review and improve our training programs to ensure our employees are prepared and empowered to put our customers first. Our values will guide everything we do.
"We'll communicate the results of our review and the concrete actions we will take by April 30."
The letter ends: "Thank you for granting us the opportunity to re-earn your trust."
Meanwhile, on Saturday, a couple travelling to their own wedding were escorted from a United flight over a seating issue and claim they were too late for their own wedding celebrations.
The couple claim they were last to board their Houston-Costa Rica flight and found a man asleep in their allocated economy seats.
Rather than disturb him, they sat a few rows up where there were plenty of seats. However, because the seats they chose were 'economy plus', they were asked to move.
The couple claim they returned to their original seats, but were then told by a US air marshall to get off the plane, which they did.
The groom, Michael Hohl, said the way United handled it was 'strange' and 'absurd'.
United issued a statement on Saturday saying: "These passengers repeatedly attempted to sit in upgraded seating which they did not purchase and they would not follow crew instructions to return to their assigned seats.
"We've been in touch with them and have rebooked them on flights tomorrow."
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