United set­tles with pas­sen­ger vi­o­lently taken off Chicago flight

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY LAURA KELLY

The Ken­tucky doc­tor who was vi­o­lently re­moved from a United Air­lines flight reached a set­tle­ment with the air­line Thurs­day, less than a month af­ter cell­phone video footage of the in­ci­dent made in­ter­na­tional news.

Lawyers for Dr. David Dao said the set­tle­ment was reached at the same time that United is­sued changes to im­prove cus­tomer ser­vice. A pro­vi­sion in the set­tle­ment re­quires its dol­lar amount to re­main pri­vate.

United is­sued a state­ment on its web­site high­light­ing 10 changes it will make to im­prove cus­tomer ser­vice. The first is lim­it­ing the use of law en­force­ment to safety and se­cu­rity is­sues only.

On April 9 at O’Hare In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Chicago, United Ex­press Flight 3411 was over­booked, and air­line man­agers had asked pas­sen­gers to give up their seats to al­low the last-minute travel of four air­line em­ploy­ees to Louisville In­ter­na­tional Air­port. When no pas­sen­gers ac­qui­esced, the man­agers chose four at ran­dom. Three com­plied, but Dr. Dao re­fused.

Air­line man­agers di­rected air­port se­cu­rity per­son­nel to forcibly re­move Dr. Dao. He blood­ied his face on an arm­rest dur­ing the strug­gle, and he was dragged ap­par­ently un­con­scious through the plane as cell­phones cap­tured the in­ci­dent on video.

Dr. Dao’s lawyers said he suf­fered a con­cus­sion, in­jury to his si­nuses, a bro­ken nose and two bro­ken teeth.

A fail­ure by United CEO Os­car Munoz to prop­erly ad­dress and apol­o­gize for the in­ci­dent drew con­dem­na­tion from the pub­lic, me­dia and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

“Mr. Munoz said he was go­ing to do the right thing, and he has,” Dr. Dao’s lawyer, Thomas Demetrio, said in a state­ment. “Dr. Dao has be­come the un­in­tended cham­pion for the adop­tion of changes which will cer­tainly help im­prove the lives of lit­er­ally mil­lions of trav­el­ers.”

“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,” Mr. Munoz said in a state­ment.

One change United in­tro­duced Thurs­day di­rects man­agers to of­fer pas­sen­gers up to $10,000 in com­pen­sa­tion to vol­un­tar­ily give up their seats. The fed­eral Trans­porta­tion De­part­ment re­quires air­lines to of­fer a max­i­mum com­pen­sa­tion of $1,350, but the Flight 3411 staff of­fered only $800 and the cost of meals and ho­tels.

In the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the April 9 in­ci­dent, Delta Air Lines said it would of­fer $10,000 com­pen­sa­tion to pas­sen­gers on over­booked flights. Other changes at United in­clude:

● Re­duc­ing the amount of over­book­ing.

● Not forc­ing seated pas­sen­gers to give up their seats un­less safety or se­cu­rity is at risk.

● Cre­at­ing an au­to­mated sys­tem for so­lic­it­ing vol­un­teers to change travel plans.

● En­sur­ing staffers are booked onto flights at least an hour be­fore de­par­ture.

● Elim­i­nat­ing the red tape on per­ma­nently lost bags by adopt­ing a “no ques­tions asked” pol­icy on lost lug­gage.

In ad­di­tion, United said it will pro­vide more train­ing for em­ploy­ees and em­power them to re­solve cus­tomer ser­vice is­sues in the mo­ment. The air­line also will set up a “cus­tomer so­lu­tions team to pro­vide agents with cre­ative so­lu­tions such as us­ing nearby air­ports, other air­lines or ground trans­porta­tions to get cus­tomers to their fi­nal des­ti­na­tion.”


United Air­lines CEO Os­car Munoz is­sued a state­ment say­ing “our poli­cies got in the way” in re­gards to Dr. David Dao’s force­ful re­moval from a plane April 9 in Chicago.

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