United Airlines to offer passengers over €9,000 to give up seats

The CEO says the carrier "failed" two weeks ago when a passenger was removed from a flight

United Airlines to offer passengers over €9,000 to give up seats

This file photo shows economy class seating on a new United Airlines Boeing 787-9 undergoing maintenance work | Image: Ted S Warren/AP/Press Association Images

Embattled US carrier United Airlines is to offer passengers US$10,000 (€9,165) to give up their seats on over-booked flights.

It is part of what the company calls "changes to improve customer experience" after a passenger was forcibly dragged from his seat earlier this month.

Dr David Dao (69) was filmed being forcibly removed from overbooked US domestic Flight 3411 on April 9th, after refusing to give up his seat.

Footage of a bloodied Dr Dao - who suffered concussion, lost two front teeth and broke his nose in the scuffle - quickly went viral and sparked a public outcry.

Dr Dao's lawyers appear to be preparing to launch legal action against the airline.

His lawyers have filed an emergency request with an Illinois court to make sure the airline preserves evidence such as videos, cockpit voice recordings, passenger and crew lists and other materials related to the incident.

The airline has announced a series of customer changes on its website.

It says it will limit the use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only, it will not require customers seated on a plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk and will ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.

It is also to provide employees with additional training, create an automated system for volunteers to change travel plans and reduce the amount of overbooking on flights.

"We failed"

Several of these policies are to come info force immediately, while others will be rolled out through the remainder of the year.

Oscar Munoz, United Airlines chief executive, said: "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 apologise.

"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."

He added: "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.

United Airlines operates some 4,500 flights a day to 337 airports across five continents - including services to and from Ireland.

Additional reporting: IRN