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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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Old Apr 13, 18, 1:33 pm   -   Wikipost
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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 17, 17, 6:00 am
  #6061  
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Originally Posted by Carl Johnson View Post
OK, what about this. Suppose there is a tour group of youthful pool players on the airplane, as well as members of a boys' band. The band boards the airplane, and once boarded they consist of 75 trombones with 110 cornets close at hand. One trombone short, with all confirmed passengers boarded and no empty seats. One trombone is on standby, and doesn't clear. Shouldn't the airline be entitled to re-accommodate one of the pool players, in order to make room for a 76th trombone?
Sounds like there would be trouble in River City...
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Old Apr 17, 17, 6:11 am
  #6062  
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Originally Posted by username View Post
I would hope all the radio and phone communications with the dispatch center are recorded as they do with real police dispatch centers.
Me too, but I also would have hoped that evidence would have been processed from the aircraft before all the blood was cleaned. That happened because UA or Republic ordered it. Of course, preserving the aircraft for evidence probably have meant that the flight to SDF would be cancelled unless Republic (or UA or some other UA contractor, but I doubt that the operator could be changed on short notice, especially on a Sunday evening) had a spare aircraft parked at ORD and ready to go.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 6:21 am
  #6063  
 
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Originally Posted by AlanInDC View Post
Non-refundable tickets can be changed at the last minute, so the airline can still have an empty seat and most of the liability deferred. True, the airline would in effect receive the change fee. Don't know about others, but we would not consider purchasing refundable tickets since it is much cheaper to buy non-refundable tickets and change them when necessary.
Right. On airlines outside the US, a nonrefundable ticket really means that - you can only change before you fly, it must be for the same city pairs, and for the same or higher fare code. So nearly impossible, and very expensive if you can do it. In the US, non refundable essentially means you get a credit for any flight on the airline, for a year, less the change fee. So the airline does lose on a lot of no shows.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 6:28 am
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Originally Posted by Artpen100 View Post
Right. On airlines outside the US, a nonrefundable ticket really means that - you can only change before you fly, it must be for the same city pairs, and for the same or higher fare code. So nearly impossible, and very expensive if you can do it. In the US, non refundable essentially means you get a credit for any flight on the airline, for a year, less the change fee. So the airline does lose on a lot of no shows.
The problem is your thought process about tickets does not work in the US, because first off, the change fee is so high many tickets are worthless. Second, WN is in the US. Define for me non-refundable with WN in the picture
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Old Apr 17, 17, 6:29 am
  #6065  
 
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Originally Posted by FlyinHawaiian View Post
Sounds like there would be trouble in River City...
Oh.......we got trouble.....trouble right here in River City.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 6:55 am
  #6066  
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Originally Posted by fastair View Post
Funny how AA just changed their CoC this week to protect you from IDB once boarded. One would think posters have info different from how the DoT has enforced this in the past, how AA has defined the IDB rules before this change, how professors of aviation have stated that it falls under IDB, how the mainstream major media has qualified it as an IDB. Remember who the regulators are, they are NOT a group of lawyers practicing mock court, but are the DoT. And I'd look up the DoT refs, compare them to the airlines CoC, and look for differences. Pre-AA change this week, other than adding the name of the carriers to the individual CoCs, the wording has been the same, as they are all cut and pasted from the DoT. I can't guarantee I'm right anymore than you can. This thread reference a group of lawyers interpretation that has not been tested in an enforcement case yet. As such, my advice is to not rule out the historical use by both airlines and the DoT, that removal after seated for oversales, DOES fall under the IDB regs. If you think it doesn't, be open to the fact that this view has not been tested yet. Remember, JDs argue on both sides of just about every court case. 50% of them are ruled against. I think dao's atty is considered at the top of his field, yet he didn't question this at all in his appearance, let alone state it as a fact. Do you think his team believes with 100% certainty that you are correct?
I haven't checked it, but someone reported that DL's CoC allows removal for operational reasons in their list of cases falling under removal for cause.

ADDED: Are there any regulations mandating compensation (including at least rebooking) for different categories of removal for cause? I don't recall seeing anything in an airline CoC that addresses this other than some policies about customers of size.

Last edited by MSPeconomist; Apr 17, 17 at 8:00 am
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Old Apr 17, 17, 6:58 am
  #6067  
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
Why would flight attendants be concerned for their safety if their unions get involved? Do you mean their job security?

I have little doubt that pilots responsibilities are well defined. It will be interesting to learn what those responsibilities are as we go forward.

Simple facts are that United admitted fault.
I interpreted part of the UA pilot union's statement to imply that the Republic pilots were not doing their jobs appropriately during the incident. This could mean that the pilot in charge had some responsibility or should have been involved in the decision making.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 7:03 am
  #6068  
 
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Originally Posted by fastair View Post
As such, my advice is to not rule out the historical use by both airlines and the DoT, that removal after seated for oversales, DOES fall under the IDB regs.
From the DOT website, IDB can only be invoked after VDB has been offered "At the check-in or boarding area". Far from being denied boarding, the pax has already explicitly been granted boarding, both explicitly by the scanning of his BP by the GA, and by the FA at the 1L door welcoming him aboard.

Now if you want to argue the toss over whether a passenger is "boarded" or not, the CoC will need to specifiy what their interpretation is. The CoC does not choose to impose a specific interpretation on "boarding" so we will need to consider what a reasonable person would understand by "boarding". In the circumstances, it is more than reasonable to consider that the individual has boarded. He has a valid boarding card, and has been explicitly allowed to board the plane by two company representatives at the aircraft entrance, and he has entered the aircraft. He is not causing any safety hazard or being disruptive (until the "cops" turn up with a trumped up justification to deplane him which is not covered by the CoC).

Therefore, IDB in terms of the DOT or CoC does not apply. If they want to remove an individual they will have to incentivise him or her, cancel the flight, substitute an aircraft, make a crew issue such as out-of-time, or hope for a force majeure.

Four DH crew turning up and demanding seats after the pax have boarded is tough for the crew, unless the,pax can be sufficiently incentivised, noting that as this is not IDB (pax are not at check-in nor boarding area) limits do not apply. (As an aside, although DOT IDB does not apply here, the IDB limits are there to limit airline liability in the event of a civil claim, they do not apply during VDB where there are no limits, and the airline is still free to offer in excess of that liability at IDB if they choose to).
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Old Apr 17, 17, 7:03 am
  #6069  
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Originally Posted by sw3 View Post
Where in the COC does it say that it cannot be used for that reason? The COC cites force majeure/unforeseeable conditions as a reason to refuse transport to any passenger at any point. Can't find anything like "except for ___" to limit that clause.
However, the planned crew was delayed at DEN due to a mechanical delay IIRC. At least EC261 certainly wouldn't consider this to be force majeure. Now, if a volcano had erupted.....
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Old Apr 17, 17, 7:06 am
  #6070  
 
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Originally Posted by PrivatePilot View Post
Exactly. I travel every week for work. On a Thursday, I want to be home and won't accept $500 UA funny money to stay an extra night or even an extra few hours. Would rather be home. But if someone REALLY needed the seat for a true heartbreaking emergency, I would be willing to give it up for free and spend the extra night away from home (I would take whatever I could get from United but that wouldn't be the main consideration at that point).
Yup. People are inherently good people, and a plane of 50-100 people, there will be at least a few people willing to give up their seat for a serious situation regardless of monetary gain. It's just in this situation it was for flight attendants and flight crew so nobody cared.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 7:21 am
  #6071  
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Originally Posted by sw3 View Post
I find it's there:

RULE 21 REFUSAL OF TRANSPORT

UA shall have the right to refuse to transport or shall have the right to remove from the aircraft at any point, any Passenger for the following reasons:

C. Force Majeure and Other Unforeseeable Conditions – Whenever such action is necessary or advisable by reason of weather or other conditions beyond UA’s control including, but not limited to, acts of God, force majeure, strikes, civil commotions, embargoes, wars, hostilities, terrorist activities, or disturbances, whether actual, threatened, or reported.
What does the CoC say about compensation if a passenger is removed from a flight? The answer might depend on whether it's the customer's fault or not.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 7:23 am
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Originally Posted by Carl Johnson View Post
OK, what about this. Suppose there is a tour group of youthful pool players on the airplane, as well as members of a boys' band. The band boards the airplane, and once boarded they consist of 75 trombones with 110 cornets close at hand. One trombone short, with all confirmed passengers boarded and no empty seats. One trombone is on standby, and doesn't clear. Shouldn't the airline be entitled to re-accommodate one of the pool players, in order to make room for a 76th trombone?
It sure would save a lot of TROUBLE... and that starts with T... and that rhymes with P... and that stands for POOL.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 7:30 am
  #6073  
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Originally Posted by desi View Post
This must be difficult for airlines and especially high paying elite fliers to swollow.

But consider this...

Airlines say that they overbook because some people never show up.

These are pax with flexible or refundable tickets.

Pax with non-refundable tickets have already made commitment. Their seats are paid for whether they come or not and hence airlines can not complain about lost revenue because of them not showing up.

So how about making regulations prohibiting IDB of anyone with non-refundable tickets? (let them volunteer for VBD if they want)
The argument that the flight is already paid applies to exEU style fare rules that say no voluntary changes ever.

However, the typical discounted ticket sold in the USA has a change fee of $200 for domestic and $250-450 for international; usually policy is that if you cancel rather than directly making changes, you get a voucher but of course are still a subject to the change fee. To complicate the situation, tickets have started to appear where the fare rules say that they're refundable but with a fee. There are also a few tickets that are changeable without a fee but not refundable.

A bad unintended consequence could be that all exUSA tickets (perhaps except for FULL Y, FULL J, and FULL F) become totally unchangeable like those in Europe.

People with last minute purchases and/or changeable/refundable tickets are likely to be those traveling on business. Often for such passengers, it's extremely important to fly the chosen flights (or it becomes a trip in vain). There would be a huge outcry if the most expensive tickets (and those most likely to be purchased by elites) were most likely to face IDBs.

Last edited by MSPeconomist; Apr 17, 17 at 8:07 am
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Old Apr 17, 17, 7:36 am
  #6074  
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Originally Posted by Carl Johnson View Post
OK, what about this. Suppose there is a tour group of youthful pool players on the airplane, as well as members of a boys' band. The band boards the airplane, and once boarded they consist of 75 trombones with 110 cornets close at hand. One trombone short, with all confirmed passengers boarded and no empty seats. One trombone is on standby, and doesn't clear. Shouldn't the airline be entitled to re-accommodate one of the pool players, in order to make room for a 76th trombone?
Yes. Otherwise the entire parade is hosed. Who's gonna lead it?
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Old Apr 17, 17, 7:54 am
  #6075  
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Originally Posted by simpleflyer View Post
Asking for the relevance of specific comments is fair. However, rather than leap to the idea that people maket them because they are trying to institute or back an oppressive totalitarian regime, perhaps we should apply Occam's Razor and come up with a less oppressive opinion of one's fellow posters.

The reason people discuss it is because it has to be considered, even if ultimately rejected, in any specific case.

There are examples of greater good that are, in fact, good - not saying they apply in this case, but the point is, they do exist.

- The medical system of triage in the event of limited resources. The idea is to apportion the available resources first to those who both need it urgently, and who will be most likely to benefit from it (i.e they don't have a risk of dying no matter what.)

- The greater good for overbooking was deemed to be higher revenue obtained without raising ticket prices. Ticket prices have not kept pace with inflation. Yes, this is a topic worthy of discussion, but do not assume that people necessarily want a return to higher fares.

- Business class flyers are rarely bumped out of the plane entirely but merely downgraded into a lower class.
This would greatly depend on government regulations. It could be cheaper to do an IDB of a business class passenger than a downgrade, especially if the downgrade requires doing an IDB to a coach passenger.
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