United Airlines is dealing with the damage caused by the customer service disaster which sparked outrage all over the world. Videos of police officer violently dragging a passenger off its flight 3411 on April 9 followed by a hollow apology initially by CEO Oscar Munoz soon put it at the centre of internet’s anger. To regain trust of customers and avoid getting into similar situations in the future, United has made some changes to its policies. Some of these changes, like booking of crew an hour before the flight and not seeking help of police to remove passengers, were announced earlier, soon after the issue spiralled out of United’s control.
The new introductions primarily speak about new limits on how and when passengers can be taken off flights. United says that passengers won’t be required to give up their seat involuntarily once they board unless there is safety or security risk. The crew members who need to travel will be booked at least an hour before to avoid situations that led to the recent incident. They have also increased the ceiling for compensations to USD 10,000. Recently, Delta also announced a similar increase raising the ceiling to USD 9,950. Of course the compensations they will be handing out are still going to be similar to what they have been offering in the past but the supervisors can offer higher, just in case.
Oscar Munoz, chief executive officer of United Airlines, 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 apologize. 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.”
“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. Our customers should be at the center of everything we do and these changes are just the beginning of how we will earn back their trust,” he added.
United also plans to reduce overbooking to avoid getting into situations where passengers have to be bumped off and for times when they do, they are setting up a customer solutions team to provide agents with other solutions including using other airlines, nearby airports and other forms of transportation to get customers to their destination.
Along with this, they are also looking to address another customer pain point, lost luggage. United will pay customers USD 1500 for lost luggage and if the losses are higher, customers can still file for claims.
It was recently reported that Oscar Munoz would not move up to the role of chairman as it was originally planned. The board is also making other changes in compensations of senior executives.