PHOTO: Before you ever get a boarding pass, United now wants to know if you’re willing to be bumped. (photo via Flickr/Katie Haugland Bowen)
In a continued effort to move past the issues that caused the recent violent removal of a passenger who refused to be rebooked, United Airlines has reportedly come up with a novel way to identify passengers willing to be bumped from a flight:
Just ask ahead of time.
According to People Magazine, United is now asking passengers during online check-in: “Are you interested in possibly taking a different flight in exchange for a travel certificate?”
The hope is to avoid a similar incident that happened to Dr. David Yao, the 69-year old passenger on Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville on April 9. United needed four volunteers to accommodate crew members who needed to be in Louisville by the next morning.
When nobody volunteered, even with compensation offered, United randomly selected four passengers to be involuntarily bumped. Dao refused and was forcibly removed and dragged through the aisle of the plane. A video of the incident went viral, sparking nationwide outrage.
United has since announced several revisions to its overbooking policies, but this is an interesting new step.
According to People, the question asked during online check-in explains that the passenger could receive travel certificates in which the “dollar amounts may vary, but are at least $200,” and that, “The United representative at the gate will confirm the amount prior to changing your reservation.”
The passenger can decline to be voluntarily bumped.
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In a statement to PEOPLE, a representative for United clarified, “Reaching out to customers before their flights allows our gate agents to easily identify customers who have flexible travel plans. For several years we have issued this notification when people check in at the airport or their computer at home. The amount offered varies by flight.
"At the same time, we are conducting a comprehensive review of our broader customer experience and look forward to communicating the results of that review and the customer-focused actions we will take by April 30.”