United Airlines hopes more cash, better
While CEO Oscar Munoz continues to apologize for how the airline had Dr. David Dao removed from his flight, he is also wrestling with how to change United's culture when it comes to customer relations. As a result, United is instituting 10 policy changes when it comes to overbooking flights, bumping passengers and improving customer service.
Among the new policies that have already gone into effect or will this week:
• United will offer up to $10,000 to customers who volunteer to give up their seat on an overbooked flight. In the incident involving Dao, he and other passengers were offered $800.
• Passengers who are on board and in their seat cannot be removed from a flight unless there is a safety or security issue.
• United will reduce the amount of overbooking, especially on last flights of the day, to a particular destination or on those flights on which passengers tend not to volunteer to give up their seat.
• United is creating a new app for crews to use when handling customer issues.
• United crews will be booked onto flights at least an hour before
In addition, the airline says it will provide annual training for gate agents so they can better handle the most difficult situations involving customers.
The changes being implemented by United are unlikely to end the public relations backlash that continues to dog the airline almost three weeks since the incident involving Dao.
"Both Dr. Dao and I applaud United for promptly addressing the many issues that have plagued passenger satisfaction in the arena of airline customer service," Thomas Demetrio, Dao's attorney, said in a statement Thursday morning.
"All of its policy changes announced today are passenger friendly and are simple, commonsense decisions on United's part to help minimize the stress involved in the flying experience," Demetrio added.
Whether or not United's new policies will improve customer service and satisfaction remains to be seen. Meanwhile, no employees at United Airlines will be fired because of the incident involving Dao.
Munoz has told the United Continental board of directors, and it agreed, that Munoz should not be elevated to the role of Chairman as previously planned this summer.