Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
Business | By Sandy Mccarthy

United changes policy, crew can't displace seated passengers

United changes policy, crew can't displace seated passengers

Immediately following its recent crisis-in which a passenger was forcibly removed after refusing to give up his seat-the airline said that it needed the seats to accommodate its commuting crew members.

United Airlines just made another policy change aimed at preventing a fiasco like the one it endured this week.

The air carrier on late Friday said that, henceforth, crew members would be allocated seats at least an hour before departure. Crews could previously be booked until the time of departure.

United Airlines is changing a company policy and will no longer allow crew members to displace customers already onboard an airplane.

Those and other changes show airlines are scrambling to respond to a public-relations nightmare - the video showing airport officers violently yanking and dragging 69-year-old David Dao from his seat on a sold-out United Express flight.

The policy change comes as the beleaguered airline is still in recovery mode in the aftermath of the viral video of a passenger being dragged off a Chicago to Louisville flight Sunday night.

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Delta has reviewed its incentive policy to persuade passengers to give up their seats.

As a result, it had the lowest rate among the largest United States airlines of bumping people off flights against their will - something that is legal but alienates customers and requires the airline to pay compensation of up to $1,350 per person.

United, and other airlines, might turn to "game theory" - which Investopedia describes as "the study of human conflict and cooperation within a competitive situation".

After the incident triggered worldwide outrage, United chief executive Oscar Munoz apologized to Dao, his family and its customers, saying the carrier would no longer use law enforcement officers to remove passengers from overbooked flights.

Raising the limits "lets them solve some PR problems" and might head off U.S. Transportation Department regulations to curb overbooking, said another travel blogger, Gary Leff.

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