Survey: Americans willing to pay more to avoid United

Survey: Americans willing to pay more to avoid United
© Greg Nash

More than 40 percent of Americans are willing to pay more money and endure a layover in order to avoid flying on United Airlines, according to a new survey.

The poll from Morning Consult — which was conducted after a passenger was violently dragged off a United flight last week — could spell trouble for the embattled airline.

United has been struggling to contain the fallout from the controversial incident, which has sparked nationwide outrage and calls for congressional hearings.

Survey respondents were asked to select an American Airlines or United Airlines flight from New York City to Chicago and were presented different scenarios in order to gauge how layovers and price would impact their decision.

When the two flights were identical, 79 percent of respondents who said they had heard about United in the news chose the American Airlines flight.

Even when the American flight was $66 more expensive and had a layover in Cleveland, 44 percent of those who had heard about United still choose American.

The poll was conducted on April 12 and surveyed 1,975 adults; it had a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

United has been under fire since videos emerged of security officers forcibly removing a passenger from his seat and dragging him down the aisle by the wrists.

The airline said it needed to make room for airline personnel after the plane had already been boarded, but when no one volunteered to give up their seat in exchange for compensation, passengers were selected at random.

The man who was dragged refused to give up his seat because he is a doctor and said he needed to treat patients. The 69-year-old doctor, who suffered a significant concussion and broken nose, is planning on suing United.

In the immediate wake of the incident, United’s shares dipped roughly 4 percent, eroding nearly $1 billion in the company’s market value.

United initially stumbled in its response, but has since promised not to take seats from boarded passengers anymore, pledged not to use law enforcement in such situations and offered to refund everyone aboard the plane.