United Airlines Makes Big Change To Its Policy After Violent Passenger Incident

by Alexandra Svokos
Twitter / REUTERS

United Airlines is making a big policy change after facing mass criticism for the violent removal of a passenger on April 9.

David Dao was brutally dragged off a United plane by law enforcement at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

Dao had been asked to give up his seat, but refused. Chicago Aviation Security Officers were brought onto the plane and physically pulled him off, leaving him bloodied, with a concussion, a broken nose and missing teeth, according to Newsweek.

Videos of the disturbing encounter quickly spread across social media, sparking outrage from shocked viewers and would-be United customers.

Originally, it was believed Dao was asked to leave because the flight was overbooked, but it was actually an issue with the airline crew.

The flight was filled to capacity, with no empty seats. But United had crew members who needed to be accommodated and transported to the next airport.

That is why Dao, along with a few other passengers, were asked to give up their seats — after no one volunteered to leave.

Initially, United backed away from a full apology or from taking full responsibility for the incident.

CEO Oscar Munoz wrote a letter to United employees praising their efforts for going "above and beyond" with this particular incident.

However, with the company still facing criticism and Dao threatening a lawsuit, United is making a policy change to ensure this situation doesn't happen again.

United Airlines announced a new policy going forward requiring traveling crew members to be booked into seats at least an hour before a flight's departure, according to Newsweek.

This would mean the airlines would know about over-capacity issues for crew members — like the one that led to Dao's forcible removal — well before customers board a flight.

The policy change is obviously a good one in terms of preventing this particular type of situation, but it also seems like something like that should've already been in place to make the best possible customer experience (i.e. to not kick paying customers off flights at the last minute).

Citations: United says Flight 3411 wasn't overbooked. It just had no open seats left (CNN), UNITED AIRLINES CHANGES CREW BOOKING POLICY AFTER FIASCO (Newsweek)