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Man pulled off of overbooked flight UA3411 (ORD-SDF) 9 Apr 2017 {Settlement reached}

Man pulled off of overbooked flight UA3411 (ORD-SDF) 9 Apr 2017 {Settlement reached}

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Statement from United Airlines Regarding Resolution with Dr. David Dao - released 27 April 2017
CHICAGO, April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- We are pleased to report that United and Dr. Dao have reached an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard flight 3411. We look forward to implementing the improvements we have announced, which will put our customers at the center of everything we do.
DOT findings related to the UA3411 9 April 2017 IDB incident 12 May 2017

What facts do we know?
  • UA3411, operated by Republic Airways, ORD-SDF on Sunday, April 9, 2017. UA3411 was the second to last flight to SDF for United. AA3509 and UA4771 were the two remaining departures for the day. Also, AA and DL had connecting options providing for same-day arrival in SDF.
  • After the flight was fully boarded, United determined four seats were needed to accommodate crew to SDF for a flight on Monday.
  • United solicited volunteers for VDB. (BUT stopped at $800 in UA$s, not cash). Chose not to go to the levels such as 1350 that airlines have been known to go even in case of weather impacted disruption)
  • After receiving no volunteers for $800 vouchers, a passenger volunteered for $1,600 and was "laughed at" and refused, United determined four passengers to be removed from the flight.
  • One passenger refused and Chicago Aviation Security Officers were called to forcibly remove the passenger.
  • The passenger hit the armrest in the aisle and received a concussion, a broken nose, a bloodied lip, and the loss of two teeth.
  • After being removed from the plane, the passenger re-boarded saying "I need to go home" repeatedly, before being removed again.
  • United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said the flight was sold out — but not oversold. Instead, United and regional affiliate Republic Airlines – the unit that operated Flight 3411 – decided they had to remove four passengers from the flight to accommodate crewmembers who were needed in Louisville the next day for a “downline connection.”

United Express Flight 3411 Review and Action Report - released 27 April 2017

Videos

Internal Communication by Oscar Munoz
Oscar Munoz sent an internal communication to UA employees (sources: View From The Wing, Chicago Tribune):
Dear Team,

Like you, I was upset to see and hear about what happened last night aboard United Express Flight 3411 headed from Chicago to Louisville. While the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did, to give you a clearer picture of what transpired, I've included below a recap from the preliminary reports filed by our employees.

As you will read, this situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help. Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.

I do, however, believe there are lessons we can learn from this experience, and we are taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding this incident. Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation.

Oscar

Summary of Flight 3411
  • On Sunday, April 9, after United Express Flight 3411 was fully boarded, United's gate agents were approached by crewmembers that were told they needed to board the flight.
  • We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation) and when we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions.
  • He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft, and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.
  • Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight. He repeatedly declined to leave.
  • Chicago Aviation Security Officers were unable to gain his cooperation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist - running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.
Email sent to all employees at 2:08PM on Tuesday, April 11.
Dear Team,

The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.

I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.

It’s never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We’ll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.

I promise you we will do better.

Sincerely,

Oscar
Statement to customers - 27 April 2017
Each flight you take with us represents an important promise we make to you, our customer. It's not simply that we make sure you reach your destination safely and on time, but also that you will be treated with the highest level of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect.

Earlier this month, we broke that trust when a passenger was forcibly removed from one of our planes. We can never say we are sorry enough for what occurred, but we also know meaningful actions will speak louder than words.

For the past several weeks, we have been urgently working to answer two questions: How did this happen, and how can we do our best to ensure this never happens again?

It happened because our corporate policies were placed ahead of our shared values. Our procedures got in the way of our employees doing what they know is right.

Fixing that problem starts now with changing how we fly, serve and respect our customers. This is a turning point for all of us here at United – and as CEO, it's my responsibility to make sure that we learn from this experience and redouble our efforts to put our customers at the center of everything we do.

That’s why we announced that we will no longer ask law enforcement to remove customers from a flight and customers will not be required to give up their seat once on board – except in matters of safety or security.

We also know that despite our best efforts, when things don’t go the way they should, we need to be there for you to make things right. There are several new ways we’re going to do just that.

We will increase incentives for voluntary rebooking up to $10,000 and will be eliminating the red tape on permanently lost bags with a new "no-questions-asked" $1,500 reimbursement policy. We will also be rolling out a new app for our employees that will enable them to provide on-the-spot goodwill gestures in the form of miles, travel credit and other amenities when your experience with us misses the mark. You can learn more about these commitments and many other changes at hub.united.com.

While these actions are important, I have found myself reflecting more broadly on the role we play and the responsibilities we have to you and the communities we serve.

I believe we must go further in redefining what United's corporate citizenship looks like in our society. If our chief good as a company is only getting you to and from your destination, that would show a lack of moral imagination on our part. You can and ought to expect more from us, and we intend to live up to those higher expectations in the way we embody social responsibility and civic leadership everywhere we operate. I hope you will see that pledge express itself in our actions going forward, of which these initial, though important, changes are merely a first step.

Our goal should be nothing less than to make you truly proud to say, "I fly United."

Ultimately, the measure of our success is your satisfaction and the past several weeks have moved us to go further than ever before in elevating your experience with us. I know our 87,000 employees have taken this message to heart, and they are as energized as ever to fulfill our promise to serve you better with each flight and earn the trust you’ve given us.

We are working harder than ever for the privilege to serve you and I know we will be stronger, better and the customer-focused airline you expect and deserve.

With Great Gratitude,

Oscar Munoz
CEO
United Airlines
Aftermath
Poll: Your Opinion of United Airlines
Poll link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KP68GYG
Results link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/results...Q6B2B/instant/
Reference Material

UA's Customer Commitment says:
Occasionally we may not be able to provide you with a seat on a specific flight, even if you hold a ticket, have checked in, are present to board on time, and comply with other requirements. This is called an oversale, and occurs when restrictions apply to operating a particular flight safely (such as aircraft weight limits); when we have to substitute a smaller aircraft in place of a larger aircraft that was originally scheduled; or if more customers have checked in and are prepared to board than we have available seats.

If your flight is in an oversale situation, you will not be denied a seat until we first ask for volunteers willing to give up their confirmed seats. If there are not enough volunteers, we will deny boarding to passengers in accordance with our written policy on boarding priority. If you are involuntarily denied boarding and have complied with our check-in and other applicable rules, we will give you a written statement that describes your rights and explains how we determine boarding priority for an oversold flight. You will generally be entitled to compensation and transportation on an alternate flight.

We make complete rules for the payment of compensation, as well as our policy about boarding priorities, available at airports we serve. We will follow these rules to ensure you are treated fairly. Please be aware that you may be denied boarding without compensation if you do not check in on time or do not meet certain other requirements, or if we offer you alternative transportation that is planned to arrive at your destination or first stopover no later than one hour after the planned arrival time of your original flight.
CoC is here: https://www.united.com/web/en-US/con...-carriage.aspx
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Old Apr 14, 17, 1:16 am
  #5356  
 
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Originally Posted by danielonn View Post
Yes its very upsetting to me that this man was pulled off the flight as a Physician who for all we know had to perform a surgery . What I think United needed to do was to make offers either online or at the checkin counter and finally at the gate.
1. Him being a physician (even of limited license) should have no bearing on this situation in either direction. He was mistreated as a human being. Period.

2. UA did not make offers in advance because they didn't know they needed seats until the very last minute, when the "must fly" crew showed up. As soon as they realized the need, they started making offers and soliciting volunteers. As much as we're faulting UA here, I have to believe they absolutely would have been making offers in advance had they known beforehand they would have 4 more pax than they had seats on the plane.
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Old Apr 14, 17, 1:22 am
  #5357  
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Originally Posted by UAzip View Post
They could get the plane to SDF still--cancel the flight, deplane everyone, send them to Customer Service, put the 4 crew onboard, ferry to SDF. Avoid a scene with who is bumped and who's not by bumping everyone essentially--but it's not bumping because the flight was canceled.

May not be the right thing to do, but I'm sure they are thinking of doing it this way sometimes in the future if they have to--not only at UA either.
That's why knee-jerk reactions like "we'll never call police again" should not be made. This would mean that a plane could theoretically be stuck at the tarmac forever if no passengers want to get out voluntarily and nobody wants to take them out by force either. Obviously at some point somebody will choose to leave the plane instead of dying by starvation or by overflowing loos, but while there should be tolerance and calmness where there's a need for deplaning passengers, there should also be limits and standards as to when and how it's time to say enough is enough.
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Old Apr 14, 17, 1:29 am
  #5358  
 
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Originally Posted by tom911 View Post
You really want 86,000 employees out on the street looking for new jobs, all over something that happened on one of their contracted flights (Republic Airways)?
They will get jobs with the other airlines who take over United's hubs and routes. Some of them will need re-training on how not to treat customers like dirt.
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Old Apr 14, 17, 1:30 am
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Old Apr 14, 17, 1:59 am
  #5360  
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Originally Posted by minnyfly View Post
I'll point to the math I did earlier. $1,600 X 4 is quite possibly beyond the breaking point where it's financially better to delay/cancel the SDF-XXX flight. Do you want that incentive?
If UA doesn't want to lose money on a particular flight by paying what it takes to get people to accept being "reaccommodated," they need to do a better job planning their operations.
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Old Apr 14, 17, 2:02 am
  #5361  
 
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Originally Posted by minnyfly View Post
Are you saying that companies should not be afforded protections too? When those protections will benefit consumers as well? There will always be uncommon, unfortunate circumstances where IDB becomes necessary and is good customer service as a whole for the aggregate consumer.
Companies protect themselves by buying insurance. You know insurance is a thing, right?

Originally Posted by minnyfly View Post
Hypothetical example: Let's say that due to inclement weather creating crew legality difficulties on a full ORD-SDF flight, the return SDF-ORD flight, the last flight of the day, would be cancelled if reserve deadhead employees weren't accepted. The choice is either to inconvenience four people for a few hours or the next day, or inconvenience a whole planeload of passengers by stranding them overnight in SDF. The former is clearly a better option as a whole. But if you regulate denied boarding to be prohibitively expensive, the latter will be chosen. Now you have over-regulated and protected nobody.
The cost of getting the crew to the next flight is however much it costs to obtain four seats within the entire transportation system slack; kicking people off of one of its own flights is not the only option, it just happened to be the cheapest option under the current perverse rules.
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Old Apr 14, 17, 2:02 am
  #5362  
 
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Originally Posted by minnyfly View Post
I'll point to the math I did earlier. $1,600 X 4 is quite possibly beyond the breaking point where it's financially better to delay/cancel the SDF-XXX flight. Do you want that incentive?
So, we ignore the revenue and profits they generate whenever they overbook, but the number of no shows allows them to pocket these revenues without having to provide any services?
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Old Apr 14, 17, 2:05 am
  #5363  
 
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Originally Posted by geminidreams View Post
The view from my high horse is that he wasnt being brave he was being whiny. The statement by his lawyers that it was worse than having to flee a war zone is just so much trash, PR to make the gullible consider that he was actually in some mortal danger to help boost the payout figure. He was at no risk if he got up and left the plane. Whilst his stance may have struck a cord with those here that want to rail against the corporates who constantly try and cheapskate their customers it is hardly admirable or courageous, certainly no more so than other protesters and demonstrators who get injured standing up for causes and who get nothing from being injured in doing so especially those injured in the process of arrest whether their cause is just or not.
The histrionic statements from his lawyers are marking out the most aggressive ground they can as a starting point for negotiations and/or presentation to a court. It's helped by the fact that United can't exactly file a pleading that says "Yeah, this might have been bad, but come on..."

Sadly, this sort of thing is common...partly because judges seem to generally be unwilling to smack a side down for overblown or absurd pleadings.
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Old Apr 14, 17, 2:27 am
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Originally Posted by GrayAnderson View Post
The histrionic statements from his lawyers are marking out the most aggressive ground they can as a starting point for negotiations and/or presentation to a court. It's helped by the fact that United can't exactly file a pleading that says "Yeah, this might have been bad, but come on..."

Sadly, this sort of thing is common...partly because judges seem to generally be unwilling to smack a side down for overblown or absurd pleadings.
That's why my hypothesis is the lawyer he was talking to on the phone was giving him advice specifically in an effort to maximize potential payouts later. When he listened to the advice, he got dragged out and his lawyer said cha-ching.
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Old Apr 14, 17, 2:49 am
  #5365  
 
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Originally Posted by erlich View Post
Companies protect themselves by buying insurance. You know insurance is a thing, right?



The cost of getting the crew to the next flight is however much it costs to obtain four seats within the entire transportation system slack; kicking people off of one of its own flights is not the only option, it just happened to be the cheapest option under the current perverse rules.
So change the rules, cancel the other flight, and leave 70 people stranded. Genius.
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Old Apr 14, 17, 2:57 am
  #5366  
 
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Originally Posted by minnyfly View Post
I'll point to the math I did earlier. $1,600 X 4 is quite possibly beyond the breaking point where it's financially better to delay/cancel the SDF-XXX flight. Do you want that incentive?
(1) Remember, those vouchers go on the books at 25% of face value due to various restrictions which apply to them. So a $1600 voucher goes on at $400, and an $800 voucher at $200. IMO there's a case to put limits on what restrictions can be placed on a VDB voucher as a matter of consumer protection, but that's a different (if related) matter.

(2) I think what we generally want is an incentive for the airline to not "cut it close" on multiple fronts at the expense of passengers and, when it can no longer deliver, not be able to simply punt the pax' travel for a day. In this case, what I think some of us would argue is that the current IDB compensation (or the $800 voucher...or, indeed, the $400 voucher for that matter) would have cut it if the offer had been a flight that evening (either on UA or on AA...or on a cross-town taxi to MDW and a flight on WN).

The problem is that UA had very little incentive not to just roll the pax back 24 hours without additional compensation. If the compensation levels (and caps) rose every few hours without limit, UA probably would have been inclined to "find a way or make one" to get them to SDF that night. To be fair, there are folks who might like the free night in Chicago.

The other problem, the fact that the whole thing played out on board the plane, severely hamstrung pax who might (for example) have been willing to take a circuitous routing or request an upgrade to F that would otherwise be comped to a high-status FFP member. For example, if I'm basically boned for the next day regardless my ask might be a 3-4 leg monstrosity that gives me an extra 4k butt-in-seat miles towards status (either on UA or on an alliance partner). Throwing random stuff into ITA Matrix, ORD-LAX-IAH-SDF in an F would give me about 12k PQMs. Granted I'm used to thinking in these terms (as many of us are), but this is the sort of thing that's largely foreclosed by the circumstances (though you can bet your arse that as soon as the requests began I'd be hauling ITA Matrix out on my phone and scrambling to get an ask together all the same).
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Old Apr 14, 17, 3:06 am
  #5367  
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Originally Posted by George Purcell View Post
Something is EXTREMELY fishy about how this IDB was handled. I cannot see any reasonable decision criteria that would split a party and take a single traveler.
Force one member of a travel party into an IDB situation and the other member(s) of the travel party become more likely to "volunteer" to be offloaded.

When it comes to a travel party that was hitherto headed to the same physical address together, splitting up the travel party increases their costs/hassles and may be just the kind of dig that even an unwitting power-tripper may pursue "to make it hurt" more than it otherwise would if the person was traveling alone.
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Old Apr 14, 17, 3:21 am
  #5368  
 
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Force one member of a travel party into an IDB situation and the other member(s) of the travel party become more likely to "volunteer" to be offloaded.

When it comes to a travel party that was hitherto headed to the same physical address together, splitting up the travel party increases their costs/hassles and may be just the kind of dig that even an unwitting power-tripper may pursue "to make it hurt" more than it otherwise would if the person was traveling alone.
Well, and there's also the issue of what to do if you pick people out of a party of three and you only need two VDBs.
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Old Apr 14, 17, 3:27 am
  #5369  
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Originally Posted by hazelrah View Post
The same thought occurred to me - IDB compensation is way too cheap. It devalues VDB and makes the carriers lazy to do their job and get volunteers.
The US DOT stacks the rules in favor of airlines in the airline v passengers game. This is no exception. The formula with the $1350 "cap" on IDB is a joke, and I would like it to be at least 3-10 times higher -- if only because it would better motivate the airlines to improve the ratio of VDB/IDB for consumers.

Does anyone here have the historical ratios of VDB/IDB by carrier going back for the last twenty years?
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Old Apr 14, 17, 3:45 am
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Originally Posted by JNelson113 View Post
But . . . . if you ask a person to leave the plane and he refuses, you then allow him to fly? I think that's quite a security risk, because he has just shown that he believes that his authority over the flight is superior to that of the flight crew. I would not want to fly on a plane with someone who will not obey crew commands. Many people will now say that the incident was handled incorrectly, etc. Granted. But once he has shown that he won't obey crew commands he must deplane.
Well at least they can be sure of one passenger taking VDB!
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