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United Announces Customer Service Changes

This week United Airlines released its Review and Action Report relating to the violent removal of passenger David Dao from an overbooked flight in Chicago on April 9 (you've definitely seen the videos).

In addition to a recap of what went down and where the airline failed, the report lists 10 new or updated customer service policies designed to prevent something like this ever happening again. Here are the changes the carrier has come up with, lifted directly from the report

1. United will limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.

United will not ask law enforcement 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.

Concludes the report, "This is how we begin to earn back your trust."