A new report released by United Airlines Thursday says several mistakes were made before, during and after the violent incident that sparked uproar around the world, when Dr. David Dao was forced out of his seat and dragged down the aisle on an overbooked flight.
In the report, the airline says internal policies got in the way of doing “what’s right” and interfered with treating passengers with respect. The report outlines several failures on the airline’s part in the way it handled the situation.
The report says it was a mistake to call law enforcement to assist with removing a passenger when it had nothing to do with security or safety issues. It also says it was wrong to book crewmembers last minute on Flight 3411. As well, it outlined that the airline offered insufficient compensation for passengers who were asked to voluntarily give up their seats. And lastly, the report states that employees did not have sufficient training to handle overbooking situations, including how to interact with passengers.
“Every customer deserves to be treated with the highest levels of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect. Two weeks ago, we failed to meet that standard and we profoundly apologize,” CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement.
“However, actions speak louder than words. Today, we are taking concrete, meaningful action to make things right and ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”
United outlined 10 changes the airline is making to prevent repeating the incident that led to police dragging Dao off the plane. The report says United is committed to limit the use of law enforcement, increase compensation up to $10,000 for travellers who voluntarily give up their seat, reduce the amount of overbooking and ensure crewmembers are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure, among other things.
“Our review shows that many things went wrong that day, but the headline is clear: our policies got in the way of our values and procedures interfered in doing what’s right. This is a turning point for all of us at United and it signals a culture shift toward becoming a better, more customer-focused airline. Our customers should be at the centre of everything we do and these changes are just the beginning of how we will earn back their trust,” Munoz added.
The incident unfolded earlier this month, when United Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville, Ky., was overbooked. The airline had randomly asked passengers to give up seats voluntarily before they asked Dao to give up his. When he refused, they forcibly removed him. Video shows him bloodied as officers dragged him down the aisle.
Dao’s lawyers said he suffered a broken nose, a concussion and missing teeth. Four aviation officers involved in the fiasco have been placed on leave while the investigation into the incident is ongoing.