United Continental said it had reached an “amicable settlement” with Dr David Dao, the 69 year old passenger whose violent removal from a United flight earlier this month caused a public outcry, but the carrier gave no details of compensation.
Dr Dao’s treatment at the hands of Chicago airport police, who removed him from an overbooked flight, leaving him with a concussion, a broken nose and two lost teeth, has become a touchpoint for public dissatisfaction with air travel around the world.
The public backlash over the incident, which took place on April 9 when Dr Dao refused to give up his seat on an overbooked flight, forced United to announce earlier on Thursday that it will now offer up to $10,000 to encourage passengers to give up their seats when a flight is overbooked, and will sell fewer seats on flights where it has historically been hard to find volunteers. United took the steps to help repair the damage done to the brand around the world by the Dao incident, a video of which was widely broadcast by social media.
“We are pleased to report that United and Dr. Dao have reached an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard flight 3411. We look forward to implementing the improvements we have announced, which will put our customers at the centre of everything we do” United said in a statement.
Thomas Demetrio, Dr Dao’s lawyer, said it was a condition of the settlement that the amount remain confidential. He praised United and its chief executive Oscar Munoz who “said he was going to do the right thing and he has”. “United has taken full responsibility for what happened…without attempting to blame others, including the City of Chicago” whose aviation police were called in by United to remove Dr Dao from the flight.
Mr Demetrio said he hopes “all other airlines make similar changes and follow United’s lead in helping to improve the passenger flying experience with an emphasis on empathy, patience, respect and dignity.”
Meanwhile rival Southwest Airlines said it planned to end overbooking altogether, since new tools for estimating how many passengers will be no-shows, and a new booking system should make it easier to avoid this controversial practice which most airlines use to maximise revenue.