Hit with a barrage of criticism over forced eviction of passengers unwilling to give up their reserved seats at the last minute, United Airlines said on Thursday it would offer up to $10,000 (approx. Rs 6.4 lakh) to passengers who forfeit their seats on overbooked flights and sell fewer tickets on some flights.
The airline carrier’s move comes as an attempt to repair its reputation after the rough removal of a passenger from a flight earlier this month.
United also said it would take actions to reduce overbooking flights and improve customer satisfaction.
“Our goal is to reduce incidents of involuntary denial of boarding to as close to zero as possible and become a more customer-focused airline,” the carrier said in a statement.
United Airlines’ offer followed rival Delta’s plans to offer up to $9,950 in such cases.
The carrier was embroiled in a controversy after videos recorded by fellow passengers, which went viral, showed David Dao, a 69-year-old Vietnamese-American, was yanked from his seat from a flight at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.
Dao was left with a concussion, a broken nose and two lost teeth. According to his lawyer, Dao will likely sue the airline.
The incident sparked a national controversy on US carriers’ treatment of customers in a industry comprising just a handful of competitors.
United typically oversells flights by less than zero to 3 per cent of the plane's seat capacity to account for no-shows.
United said it will no longer call law enforcement to deny passengers boarding, now would passengers who are already seated will asked to give up their seats on overbooked flights.
Furthermore, the carrier said it will adopt a “no questions asked” policy on permanently lost baggage, paying customers $1,500 for the value of the bag and its contents, beginning in June.
"This is a turning point for all of us at United," Chief Executive Oscar Munoz said in a statement.