In response to last week’s highly publicised incident where a passenger on a United Airlines jet was forcibly removed to make way for a United crew member, the carrier has announced a change to its policy relating to ‘must-ride’ crew members.
From now on, such crew members must make a seat booking at least one hour prior to departure, thus ensuring that passengers who are already onboard a plane cannot be displaced.
Maggie Schmerin, a United spokeswoman, said in an email on Sunday 16th April that the change is an initial step in a review of policies and which is intended to ensure that situations like Dao’s never happen again.
In the incident took place on Sunday 9th April, on an already overbooked flight from Chicago, Il. to Louisville, KY. Having initially failed to find volunteers who would agree to be ‘bumped’ for the sum of US$400.00 and then $800.00 compensation plus paid-for overnight accommodation, four passengers were selected at random to give up their seats for four crew members of a partner airline who were required in Louisville.
While three of the passengers were happy to do so in return for compensation, a fourth person, David Dao, refused on the grounds he was a doctor and had patients to see early the next day.
As a result, the carrier contacted authorities and Dao was forcibly dragged off the flight, an incident that was recorded by a number of passengers and one, Audra D. Bridges, posted a video of the incident on Facebook.
The backlash was almost instant and, as a consequence, at one point shares in the airline fell by 4.4 percent, wiping over a US$1 billion off the value.
At the end of trading on the Monday following the incident, the share value of the airline had recovered to a drop of 1.13 per cent, which equated to a loss in value of approximately US$255 million.