United promises to reduce overbooking

United promises to reduce overbooking
© Getty Images

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.”


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.