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United Airlines

Is United Getting Cheaper With Flight Compensation?

Is United Getting Cheaper With Flight Compensation?
Joe Cortez

After the viral 2017 incident where a passenger was dragged off a United Airlines-branded aircraft, the Chicago-based airline, as part of its public apology, promised to give bigger travel credits to any passenger bumped due to overbooking. And they made good on their promise. One passenger even received a $10,000 travel credit when she was bumped from her flight.

Some of United’s Generosity Comes to an End

But while United Airlines is famously generous with its travel credits for bumped passengers, it may be dialing back its compensation for passengers who are delayed. Citing an internal memo sent to airline employees, Skift reports that United will no longer proactively offer travel vouchers to all passengers delayed by at least six hours do to carrier-related issues. Those issues include mechanical problems, crew shortages, and others.

It’s in Your Gate Agent’s Hands

Now, the airline will allow gate agents to decide what is appropriate for airline-caused delays of between four and six hours. In addition, the offer won’t be made to everyone. Flyers will have to ask for compensation from gate agents.

“When situations arise, and they warrant compensation outside of this guideline, do the right thing to take care of the customer,” the internal memo read, according to Skift “With the ongoing enhancements within the In-the-Moment Care app, you can issue compensation on the spot, recover service disruptions, and avoid sending the customer to a website or service desk.”

Why were the changes made? According to reports from inside the airline, the changes were made “based on feedback,” but it’s unclear if that was internal or from customers.

Not Changing: Rules Affecting Mandatory Delay Compensation

While United may be changing its policies, it does not change international laws which may give travelers additional rights. For example, EC 261/2004 applies to all airlines departing from the European Union and Norway, requiring carriers to pay flyer claims for delays of as little as two hours. Flyers report various degrees of success in United paying these claims, based on the type and actual length of the delay.

View Comments (3)

3 Comments

  1. am1108

    January 8, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    Who would ever complain about free money? I don’t even believe the frontline reps would complain as it’s easier for them if an email sends them an apology and a certificate….

  2. FlyingNone

    January 8, 2020 at 11:45 pm

    “….according to Skift “With the ongoing enhancements within the In-the-Moment Care app, you can issue compensation on the spot, recover service disruptions, and avoid sending the customer to a website or service desk.”
    ————————————
    How does this prevent a planeload of people from standing at a service desk if you have one or two gate agents (already frazzled from the delay) having to handle 100-200+ passengers? No one is going to want to line up behind other angry, frustrated, complaining, delayed passengers who insist on more compensation than the said gate agent(s) are willing to decide on or give, if at all. Talk about a recipe for disaster. United “based on feedback” from who/ where ??. Here’s my feedback (if anyone cares) – United, ever faithful in creating angrier customers and totally frustrated, frazzled employees.

  3. Scottyrocket

    January 9, 2020 at 10:56 am

    No doubt United will incentivise the gate agents to give lower compensation

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