World

United ups offer to bumped passengers

CHICAGO: United Airlines said yesterday it will offer passengers up to US$10,000 (S$14,000) in compensation for giving up their seats on overbooked flights following the dragging incident on one of its carriers that caused worldwide outrage.

Those and other changes, which the airline called "substantial", were the result of a two-week internal probe of the April 9 incident.

Passenger David Dao was pulled from his seat and dragged off the plane by airport security in Chicago to make room for airline crew. The 69-year-old doctor suffered a concussion and a broken nose and teeth, according to his lawyers.

The footage of the incident captured by fellow Flight 3411 passengers - which included images of a bloodied Dr Dao - resulted in widespread indignation.

After initial missteps in which they appeared to at least partially blame Dr Dao, the carrier and its chief executive Oscar Munoz apologised repeatedly and launched the internal review to find out what went wrong.

"Our policies got in the way of our values and procedures interfered with doing what's right," Mr Munoz said in a statement announcing the results of the review. "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," he said.

The carrier's report highlighted 10 changes, including increasing its cash enticement to US$10,000, effective today, to get customers to voluntarily give up their seats on overbooked flights. The crew on Flight 3411 had only offered $1,000, the report said.

United has also begun reducing overbooking - the practice of selling more tickets than seats on a plane to account for no-shows - on certain flights "that historically have experienced lower volunteer rates," said United spokesman Maggie Schmerin. Such flights include those that are the last of the day and on smaller planes. - AFP

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