United promises to reduce overbooking

United promises to reduce overbooking
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United Airlines will reduce overbooking and increase compensation for passengers who are “bumped” from a flight, the company announced Thursday.

The embattled airline’s image took a hit earlier this month after video of police dragging a seated passenger off a plane in Chicago to make room for United crew members went viral.

United hopes to stem the fallout over this incident with a series of policy changes, including a commitment to reduce its reliance on airport police.

Oscar Munoz, the airline’s CEO, said he hopes the changes will serve as a “turning point” for the airline.

“This is a turning point for all of us at United, and it signals a culture shift toward becoming a better, more customer-focused airline,” Munoz said. “Our customers should be at the center of everything we do and these changes are just the beginning of how we will earn back their trust.”

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United will no longer require seated passengers to involuntarily leave the plane, “unless safety or security is at risk.”

The airline promised to reduce overbooking — a legal but controversial industry practice that occasionally leads to some passengers being denied boarding on flights they paid for.

When United does overbook a flight, the airline will move to an automated system for finding passengers who are willing to change their travel plans. Those who volunteer to be “bumped” may receive up to $10,000 in compensation from the airline.

United will also look for “creative solutions” to accommodate passengers who were bumped from a flight, including booking them on flights with other airlines or sending them to nearby airports.

United crew members will now have to be booked on a flight at least one hour prior to take off to reduce the need for the airline to remove seated passengers.

The airline will also adopt a “no questions asked” policy to accommodate passengers whose luggage is permanently lost.

United said the policy changes will be gradually implemented throughout the rest of the year.