By Ryan Craggs. Photos: Getty.
What started out as a bad month for United Airlines when a passenger was violently dragged off a plane has kept rolling, most recently when a giant rabbit died in a United plane's cargo hold. But today, the airline announced ten changes to address customer service—including one that could make giving up your seat far more lucrative.
As promised, United delivered a full review of the passenger-dragging incident, publishing the "United Express Flight 3411 Review and Action Report," on Thursday. Along with a summary of the incident, an explanation of Involuntary Denied Boarding (IDB), and a list of failures on the airline's part, United promised a slew of big changes for passengers, including that it "will increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000." That change goes into effect April 28, so if you're willing to take a later flight starting this weekend, there's potentially more money in volunteering. (Previously, the airline offered up to a maximum of $1,350 for voluntary denied boarding, according to its contract of carriage.) Getting bumped from your flight can be a profitable endeavor: Just ask the family that got $11,000.
Flying into Tulsa on the last plane out of town? You might strike gold.
Three other forthcoming changes directly relate to overbooking and involuntary denied boardings: The airline said it will no longer require customers already on the plane to give up seats "unless safety or security is at risk"; additionally, it promised a reduction in the amount of overbooking on flights that "historically have experienced lower volunteer rates," along with small planes and the last flights into a destination. Flying into Tulsa on the last plane out of town? You might strike gold.
Lastly, the airline pledged the creation of an "automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans," which will "gauge a customer's interest in giving up his or her seat on overbooked flights in exchange for compensation" at both airport and in-app check in. Effectively, this creates effectively a silent auction for giving up your seat, which might have helped United avoid this entire fiasco in the first place, and even drew praise from the lawyer for Dr. David Dao, the passenger injured in the incident.
Along with the compensations and overbooking changes, United also enacted a new policy whereby it would no longer call law enforcement over matters of company policy, and only in instances of safety and security.
The Action Report details other service measures the company plans to implement, including changes to reimbursement for lost bags and employee trainings to be enacted over the next few months, but for customers, most of that is probably fine print. Today, what really matters for people flying United, is knowing you're more securely in your seat—unless you're out to make some extra cash.
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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