In the wake of one of the worst PR disasters in United Airlines’ history,
the airline is changing its policy on overbooking passengers.
Immediately following its recent crisis—in which a passenger was forcibly
removed after refusing to give up his seat—the airline said that it needed
the seats to accommodate its commuting crew members. After no one
volunteered, the airline’s crew chose seats at random to rebook on another
Now, United’s commuting staff and crew will now be required to check into
their flights 60 minutes prior to departure.
United’s spokeswoman, Maggie Schmerin, said in a statement:
This [policy change] ensures situations like flight 3411 never happen
again. This is one of our initial steps in a review of our policies in
order to deliver the best customer experience.
The new policy would avoid the scenario of anyone being removed from a
plane once seated, but it does not prevent someone from being bumped from a
flight they purchased.
Keep your cool in a crisis with these tips.]
Competitor airlines quickly followed suit, probably hoping to avoid a
Delta announced it will provide passengers up to $9,950 in compensation if
they are willing to give up their seats. The new cap only applies to
passengers who voluntarily give up their seat.
The price is small when compared to the potential PR problem that sits a
smartphone video away—but
reported that passengers shouldn’t expect to receive that much cash. Last
year, the average cash payout for passengers who were denied boarding was
$9. Instead, Delta will likely dole out compensation in the form of
the Los Angeles Times reported:
Other airlines said they were examining their policies.
updated its rules to say that no passenger who has boarded the plane will
be removed to give the seat to someone else.
Last year, more than 475,000 passengers were bumped from flights, according
to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Here’s how the numbers broke down
- Delta: 131,063
- American Airlines: 62,571
- United Airlines: 66,660
- Skywest Airlines: 44,411
- Southwest Airlines: 103,607
- ExpressJet Airlines: 36,772
United’s crisis not only caused other airlines to examine their overbooking
policies, it also provided PR pros
a primer on how not to respond to backlash. So far,
the airline’s vow to “do better”
has not stemmed the tide of consumers’ criticism.