Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > United Airlines | MileagePlus
Reload this Page >

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}

    Hide Wikipost
Old Apr 13, 18, 1:33 pm   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: WineCountryUA
Wiki Link
WELCOME, THREAD GUIDELINES and SUMMARY PLEASE READ BEFORE POSTING

If you are new to us, welcome to FlyerTalk! Who we are: FlyerTalk features discussions and chat boards that cover the most up-to-date traveler information; an interactive community dedicated to the topic of travel (not politics or arguments about politics or religion, etc. – those discussion are best in the OMNI forum)

The incident discussed in this thread has touched a nerve for many, and many posters are passionate about their opinions and concerns. However we should still have a civil and respectful discussion of this topic. This is because FlyerTalk is meant to be a friendly, helpful, and collegial community. (Rule 12.)

1. The normal FlyerTalk Rules apply. (Including not discussing moderation actions in thread). Please be particularly attentive to "discussing the idea and not the poster" when you have a disagreement. Civility and mutual respect are still expected and are what we owe each other as a community.

2. You are expected to respect the FlyerTalk community's diversity, and therefore refrain from posting inflammatory comments about race, religion, culture, politics, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. Do not cite, copy, or report on such.

3. While you can disagree with an opinion, the holder of that opinion has the same right to their opinion as you have to yours. We request all to respect that and disagree or discuss their point of views without getting overly personal and without attacking the other poster(s). This is expected as a requirement in FT Rule 12.

4. Overly exaggerative posts as well as posts with information that has been posted several times previously may be summarily deleted.

5. In addition, those who repeatedly fail to comply with FlyerTalk Rules, may be subjected to FlyerTalk disciplinary actions and, e.g., have membership privileges suspended, or masked from this forum.

If you have questions about the Rules or concerns about what another has posted in this or other threads in this forum, please do not post about that. Rather, notify the moderators by using the alert symbol within each post or email or send a private message to us moderators.

Let’s have this discussion in a way that, when we look back on it, we can be proud of how we handled ourselves as a community.

The United Moderator team:
J.Edward
l'etoile
Ocn Vw 1K
Pat89339
WineCountryUA

N.B. PLEASE do not alter the contents of this moderator note
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
Print Wikipost

Old Apr 27, 17, 3:16 pm
  #6601  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Watchlisted by the prejudiced, en route to purgatory
Programs: Just Say No to Fleecing and Blacklisting
Posts: 88,310
Originally Posted by fly18725 View Post
There's no set SEC threshold for materiality, but I would estimate a settlement would need to exceed $100M to require disclosure.
I wouldn't buy that estimate even for a penny. I've seen larger companies than UAL disclose in filings (of one sort or another) for things that amounted to far less than $100M.
GUWonder is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 3:20 pm
  #6602  
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: LAX
Programs: AS MVPG, DL GM
Posts: 277
As a pleb, I think lifetime flight benefits and USD 100,000 would have been a fair settlement from United.
idiosyncrasy is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 3:21 pm
  #6603  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: wandering expat
Posts: 39,761
Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
I would assume nothing of the sort -- it is worth well more than $10m to UAL to make this case go away fast. I expect they made a serious eye-popping offer.
I agree. They want this to go away fast, so the offer was probably one that may have even surprised the attorney.
halls120 is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 3:24 pm
  #6604  
Marriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Sydney, Australia
Programs: HHD, SPG LTG
Posts: 1,700
The settlement was extraordinarily quick which means a mouth watering offer offer from United. Someone mentioned $10,000 come on, if a $30 billion company said that to you, you would tell them {removed} and see you in court. There was literally no time to negotiate a figure here and don't worry about statutory limits in terms of quantum because United wanted to make this go away, and go away fast. Paying him out will make this story fade away fast. If this was me, I would accept a figure no less than $10 million.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 27, 17 at 3:45 pm Reason: Using symbols, spaces or other methods to mask vulgarities is not allowed.
alanslegal is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 3:38 pm
  #6605  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: DCA/RIC
Programs: HH LTD, AA PLT/1mm
Posts: 969
Originally Posted by alanslegal View Post
The settlement was extraordinarily quick which means a mouth watering offer offer from United. Someone mentioned $10,000 come on, if a $30 billion company said that to you, you would tell them {removed} and see you in court. There was literally no time to negotiate a figure here and don't worry about statutory limits in terms of quantum because United wanted to make this go away, and go away fast. Paying him out will make this story fade away fast. If this was me, I would accept a figure no less than $10 million.
I agree with your points. I was hoping this to drag out, but knew it wouldn't. Even if UA won in court and had to pay nothing, it would have cost them so much more in bad PR and lost revenue, especially in Asia.

They obviously realized this, and wanted nothing more than to make this story go away. And for a lawyer who prides himself on not agreeing to sign a non-disclose, for him to agree so quick, it tells me it was a huge number.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 27, 17 at 3:45 pm Reason: Quote updated to reflect Moderator edit
isle-hawg is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 3:51 pm
  #6606  
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 2,881
Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
I wouldn't buy that estimate even for a penny. I've seen larger companies than UAL disclose in filings (of one sort or another) for things that amounted to far less than $100M.
Sure, if they settled for a $1 but the settlement required United to terminate its contract with Republic, United would disclose the settlement because it materially impacted its business.

A straight financial settlement is immaterial to investors until it reaches a significant level in relation to the filers net income and asset levels. For United, that is pretty high.
fly18725 is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 3:57 pm
  #6607  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Watchlisted by the prejudiced, en route to purgatory
Programs: Just Say No to Fleecing and Blacklisting
Posts: 88,310
Originally Posted by fly18725 View Post
Sure, if they settled for a $1 but the settlement required United to terminate its contract with Republic, United would disclose the settlement because it materially impacted its business.

A straight financial settlement is immaterial to investors until it reaches a significant level in relation to the filers net income and asset levels. For United, that is pretty high.
UAL may file an 8-K on a matter even when the amount at stake isn't publicly disclosed and materiality is questionable. These are event filings.
GUWonder is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 4:20 pm
  #6608  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: DFW
Posts: 15,819
Originally Posted by Xyzzy View Post
Well, those of us who said this would never get to court appear to have been crrect.
United certainly didn't want the public to see how the sausage is made.
Boggie Dog is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 4:26 pm
  #6609  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 3,872
Originally Posted by idiosyncrasy View Post
As a pleb, I think lifetime flight benefits and USD 100,000 would have been a fair settlement from United.
Not sure the guy who had his face rearranged because he chose United to fly home would be too interested in lifetime flight bennies. Maybe if they bought it for him on Delta.....
rickg523 is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 5:03 pm
  #6610  
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Programs: Hilton Lifetime Diamond; UA Premier Silver
Posts: 1,207
FWIW, this was the lead on NBC Nightly News tonight. Lester Holt had about a three minute interview with a very contrite Oscar...
milesmilesmiles is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 6:28 pm
  #6611  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Programs: UA 1K, Hilton ♦ , Hyatt Carbonado, Wyndham ♦, Marriott PE, "Stinking Bum" elsewhere.
Posts: 3,167
Originally Posted by alanslegal View Post
The settlement was extraordinarily quick which means a mouth watering offer offer from United. Someone mentioned $10,000 come on, if a $30 billion company said that to you, you would tell them {removed} and see you in court. There was literally no time to negotiate a figure here and don't worry about statutory limits in terms of quantum because United wanted to make this go away, and go away fast. Paying him out will make this story fade away fast. If this was me, I would accept a figure no less than $10 million.
I don't if there is any veracity to this report, but I was just watching TV in the Exec. Lounge at breakfast, here in Tokyo, and I heard 8.3 million.
zombietooth is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 6:41 pm
  #6612  
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: WAS DCA IAD BWI NCR ALX
Programs: Hilton Gold, Hotels.com Gold, Pizza Hut Rewards Supreme
Posts: 425
Originally Posted by isle-hawg View Post
I agree with your points. I was hoping this to drag out, but knew it wouldn't. Even if UA won in court and had to pay nothing, it would have cost them so much more in bad PR and lost revenue, especially in Asia.

They obviously realized this, and wanted nothing more than to make this story go away. And for a lawyer who prides himself on not agreeing to sign a non-disclose, for him to agree so quick, it tells me it was a huge number.
Dr. Dao is 69 years old, and probably doesn't want to spend most of the remainder of his living years in a lengthy court battle.

And of course, had this ever gone to trial, ANYTHING UA could say in its own defense would rip open scabs in the court of media and public opinion. The media storm would be like the first few days after the incident, but would drag on for weeks, as long as the trial went on.
aoumd is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 6:44 pm
  #6613  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: 60137
Posts: 10,335
Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
Maybe if they bought it for him on Delta.....
...or 5 years access to Netjets.
sonofzeus is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 7:08 pm
  #6614  
Original Member
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Costa Mesa, CA, USA
Programs: AA (Life Plat), Starwood (Plat) and every other US program
Posts: 5,087
Originally Posted by aoumd View Post
Dr. Dao is 69 years old, and probably doesn't want to spend most of the remainder of his living years in a lengthy court battle.

And of course, had this ever gone to trial, ANYTHING UA could say in its own defense would rip open scabs in the court of media and public opinion. The media storm would be like the first few days after the incident, but would drag on for weeks, as long as the trial went on.
Settling now was smart for everyone involved. Dao's case likely goes down in value when you apply legal principles, etc. But right now his case is big news and worthy of settlement. United also wants a clean slate, even if it costs more.
sbrower is offline  
Old Apr 27, 17, 7:41 pm
  #6615  
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: LAX
Programs: No status cash flyer
Posts: 9
Here is the full report promised by United Airlines. You can go to the United website and download the report in .pdf format.

United Express Flight 3411 Review and Action Report

By United Airlines

April 27, 2017


Introduction
This is United Airlines' promised review of events from United Express Flight 3411 on April 9, 2017, when a customer flying from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Louisville International Airport was forcibly removed from our aircraft. This report outlines what we have already done and what we will do to prevent a terrible event like this from happening again.

We can never apologize enough for what occurred and for our initial response that followed. United Airlines takes full responsibility for what happened. The intention of this report is to communicate concrete and meaningful actions that will avoid putting our customers, employees and partners into impossible situations. Our goal is to reduce incidents of involuntary denial of boarding to as close to zero as possible and become a more customer-focused airline. And this is just the beginning of our commitment to you.

Our entire company is dedicated to making this right, working harder than ever to serve you and live up to our shared purpose and values of making decisions with empathy, respecting every voice and delivering what you expect and deserve.

Summary of What Happened on United Express Flight 3411
Sunday, April 9, 2017

United Express Flight 3411 is regularly scheduled to fly Sunday through Friday from O'Hare to Louisville, with a planned departure of 5:40 p.m. CDT and an arrival of 8:02 p.m. EDT. Seating capacity is 70 customers.

Before boarding, flight 3411 was overbooked by one customer. Despite early attempts by United, via website/kiosk and multiple announcements at the gate asking for customers willing to take later flights, there were no volunteers. As a result, one customer who had not yet been given a seat assignment was involuntarily denied boarding (see Involuntary Denied Boarding Selection Process sidebar). The customer received a check as compensation and was booked on another United flight. The other customers were then called to board the plane.

At the same time, an earlier flight to Louisville, originally scheduled to depart O'Hare at 2:55 p.m. CDT was experiencing a maintenance issue (it was unclear if this issue could be fixed, but regardless, it would depart after flight 3411). Booked on this flight were four crew members, scheduled to operate the early Monday morning United Express flight from Louisville to Newark. Without this crew's timely arrival in Louisville, there was the prospect of disrupting more than 100 United customers by canceling at least one flight on Monday and likely more. With this in mind, the four crew members were booked on flight 3411, creating the need to identify four customers who would not be able to take the flight.

United agents began to seek four volunteers, this time while customers were seated on the aircraft. The agent offered an $800 travel credit plus the cost of meals and hotel accommodations for the evening, but no customers were willing to accept the offer. The agent then followed the involuntary denial of boarding selection process to determine which customers would be asked to leave the airplane.

Once the four customers on flight 3411 were identified, the United supervisor spoke with two of the customers, a couple, who then departed the aircraft and received compensation. The next customers approached were Dr. Dao and his wife. The supervisor apologized and explained they would also need to depart the aircraft, but Dr. Dao refused. The supervisor was unable to convince Dr. Dao to depart the aircraft. Given Dr. Dao's unwillingness to deplane, the supervisor left the plane and spoke to the United zone controller, who indicated that authorities would be contacted. The supervisor went back on the plane to request again that Dr. Dao deplane and advised him that authorities would be contacted. At this point, one customer onboard the aircraft volunteered to change flights for $1,000 but United needed two volunteers in order to avoid having to remove the Daos. No other customers would volunteer unless United could guarantee an arrival in Louisville later that night. Given the fact that the 2:55 p.m. CDT departure remained on a maintenance delay, with a possibility of cancelling, United could not make that commitment.

Officers from the Chicago Department of Aviation, which has authority to respond to such airline requests and historically has been effective in getting customers to voluntarily comply, answered United's request for assistance. These security officers were unable to gain Dr. Dao's cooperation to depart the plane voluntarily.

At this time, the United supervisor left the aircraft and attempted to call a manager about the situation, and Dr. Dao, as evidenced by widely reported video footage, was physically removed from his seat by the Chicago Department of Aviation Officers. After being forcibly removed from the aircraft, Dr. Dao ran back onto the airplane and Chicago Department of Aviation Officers removed him for a second time. He was later taken to a local hospital.

All customers then deplaned. After approximately 40 minutes, the flight re boarded without the Daos and departed for Louisville.

Involuntary Denied Boarding (IDB) Selection Process
United's involuntary denied boarding (IDB) process is automated and customers are not subject to discretionary choice by agents. This is our process:

First, agents will deny boarding if a passenger does not have a seat assignment prior to boarding the aircraft.
Customers are then sorted by fare class (estimated fare paid) and type of itinerary.
Customers with the lowest paid fare are placed at the top of the list for involuntary denial of boarding.
If a group of customers paid the same fare, then the group is sorted by time of check-in.
Customers with frequent flyer status will not be involuntarily denied boarding, unless all of the remaining passengers have frequent flyer status, in which case the lowest status will move to the top of the IDB list.
Customers with special needs (unaccompanied minors, passengers with disabilities) are excluded and are not involuntarily denied boarding.
United Failures Related to United Express Flight 3411
Calling on law enforcement to assist with policy enforcement when a security or safety issue didn't exist. United's policies and procedures in non-safety or security situations did not adequately address instances in which customers refused to comply with requests.
Rebooking crew at the last minute. The crew was booked and arrived at flight 3411 during the boarding process. Our policies did not prohibit this.
Offering insufficient compensation and not providing transportation/destination options to entice more customers to give up their seats willingly. Agents did not have the authority to act independently and authorize higher levels of compensation or provide other modes of transportation and/or the right destination options.
Providing insufficient employee training and empowerment to handle a situation like this. United does not provide regular training to prepare its team for denied boarding situations and individual interactions with customers during these potentially difficult situations.
Goals of United Policy Changes
With the policy changes it already has made or that are forthcoming, United seeks to:

Become more customer-focused.
Avoid putting our customers, employees and partners into impossible situations due to policies we control.
Reduce incidents of involuntary denial of boarding to as close to zero as possible.
United Policy Changes Made or Forthcoming


1. United will limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.
United will not ask law enforcement officers to remove customers from flights unless it is a matter of safety and security. United implemented this policy on April 12.

2. United will not require customers already seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.
United implemented this policy on April 27.

3. United will increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000.
United's policy will be revised to increase the compensation levels up to $10,000 for customers willing to volunteer to take a later flight. This will go into effect on April 28.

4. United will establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions.
United will create a team to proactively identify and provide gate agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportation to get customers and crews to their final destinations. Separately, the team also will work to provide solutions to help get crews to their final destinations. United expects the team to be operational by June. Examples include:

Suggest flights to close-by airports and then provide transportation to the customer's preferred destination.
If a customer's travel includes a connecting flight, provide options that would eliminate the connection and still get the customer to the destination.
Offer ground transportation where practical.
5. United will ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
Unless there are open seats, all crew members traveling for work on our aircraft must be booked at least 60 minutes before departure. This policy was implemented on April 14.

6. United will provide agents with additional annual training.
United will provide annual training for frontline employees to enhance their skills on an ongoing basis that will equip them to handle the most difficult of situations. This training will begin in August.

7. United will create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.
Later this year, United will introduce a new automated check-in process, both at the airport and via the United app, that will gauge a customer's interest in giving up his or her seat on overbooked flights in exchange for compensation. If selected, that customer will receive their requested compensation and be booked on a later United flight.

8. United will reduce its amount of overbooking.
United has evaluated its overbooking policy. As a result, adjustments have been made to reduce overbookings on flights that historically have experienced lower volunteer rates, particularly flights on smaller aircraft and the last flights of the day to a particular destination.

9. United will empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.
Rolling out later this year, United will launch a new "in the moment" app for our employees to handle customer issues. This will enable flight attendants (by July) and gate agents (later this year) to compensate customers proactively (with mileage, credit for future flights or other forms of compensation) when a disservice occurs.

10. United will eliminate the red tape on lost bags.
United will adopt a new no-questions-asked policy on permanently lost bags. In these instances, United will pay a customer $1,500 for the value of the bag and its contents. For claims or reimbursement over $1,500, additional documentation may be required. This process is expected to be in place in June.

Conclusion
This has been a defining moment for our United family and it is our responsibility — our mission — to make sure we all learn from this experience. The changes we have announced are designed to better serve our customers and empower our employees. This is how we begin to earn back your trust.

Appendix
Background on Denied Boarding

While very rare, denied boarding occurs when more customers have checked in and are at the gate than there are seats on the flight. There are several conditions that may result in this situation, which usually occur prior to boarding, but can take place after the plane has been boarded. We've identified the five causes of denied boarding below.

While United strives to avoid any denied boarding situations, it also seeks to disrupt as few travelers as possible when they occur. Further, whenever possible, it seeks to compensate customers to relinquish their seats voluntarily. If it can provide compensation that a customer considers compelling enough to volunteer, then that customer will remain a satisfied customer. In 2016, 95.6 percent of United's denied boarding customers were volunteers.

United's DOT statistics in 2016 show 3,765 incidents out of 86.8 million United customers, of involuntary denied boarding (representing fewer than 1 in 23,000 customers). The rate of involuntary denials was a 44 percent decline from 2015 and 30 percent below the average among airlines reporting to the DOT (this data reflects mainline flights departing the United States only).

Causes of denied boarding:

Restrictions placed on the capacity of the aircraft: In some circumstances, the weight of the aircraft and its contents must be reduced for a flight to operate safely. Weather conditions at the departure airport, arrival airport or somewhere along the route of the flight are the most common reasons for a flight to be subject to weight restrictions. When possible, United tries to reduce weight by removing cargo, but in some circumstances the aircraft simply cannot carry a full load of customers and operate within United's safety requirements. The restrictions usually occur close to departure time, as weather is developing, and sometimes even after a flight has boarded. As an example, when winter snowstorms result in a runway with snow at the departure airport, a reduction to the maximum takeoff weight for the aircraft may be required.

Unlike overbooking denials of boarding, which typically impact one or two customers, weight restrictions can require up to dozens of customers to be denied boarding. As the number of customers without seats increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to get enough volunteers. As a result, weight restrictions are much more likely to cause involuntary denial of boarding. This is a no-win situation: Get most of the customers to their destination, but create a difficult situation with the customers who are required to be denied boarding, or cancel the flight entirely. For the customers who get seats on the aircraft, the outcome is better than cancelling the flight. But for the customers involuntarily denied boarding, the process seems very unfair and arbitrary and leads to some of United's and the industry's worst customer service experiences. As in all involuntary denied boarding situations, the customers are selected based on the criteria described in the Involuntary Denied Boarding Selection Process sidebar.

Aircraft downsizing (down-gauging): This can occur when an aircraft is unable to make it to its intended destination either because of weather or due to a mechanical issue that would prevent it from completing its scheduled flight. United has spare aircraft; however, there are times when the substitute aircraft's number of seats is different from the flight it is intended to replace. Sometimes the only option to avoid a cancellation is to use a smaller aircraft that can accommodate fewer customers. This also can lead to the need to move customers from the cabin they were booked in originally. Like weight restrictions, this is more likely to lead to involuntary denial of boarding because the substituted aircraft may have as many as 40-50 fewer seats.

Crew movement: As in the case of flight 3411, customers can be denied boarding involuntarily if a plane is full and a flight crew, under airline policies, must be allowed to take that flight. This is done to avoid further operational disruptions, which would impact even more customers (such as cancelling a future flight that a crew is scheduled to fly).

Overbooking: Like most airlines, United overbooks flights, typically by less than 0-3 percent of the plane's seat capacity, to account for normal customer no-shows. United's forecast of no-shows is usually quite accurate and approximately four percent of its flights have more ticketed customers seeking to board the aircraft than available seats. The vast majority of denied boardings from overbooking are voluntary –customers agree to take another flight for compensation and incentives, reflecting the low overbooking levels.

Situations at the departure gate or on the aircraft resulting in safety or security concerns: Airlines infrequently must deny boarding involuntarily on a flight when an unexpected situation arises at the departure gate or on a plane before departure. An example could be if a customer becomes unruly or disruptive for any reason and, for safety or security reasons, airline personnel consider it necessary to deny boarding or require the customer to leave the plane.



Additional Resources:

- Press release

- Infographic
TimeWarp is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread