Video stills of the United Airlines passenger who was dragged off an airplane.

Screengrab via kaylyn_davis/Twitter Screengrab via Audra D. Bridges/Facebook Remix by Samantha Grasso

United won’t remove seated passengers from overbooked flights anymore

There might be more changes coming.


Chris Tognotti

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United Airlines will no longer kick seated passengers off flights in order to make room for staff members, according to reports. One week after becoming the subject of furious international scrutiny and condemnation, following the video of Dr. David Dao being forcibly dragged out of a United plane, the airline has reportedly changed its policies in order to avoid such a grisly scene from ever occurring again.

According to the New York Times, United will now require staff members to check in for their flights up to an hour in advance to prevent paying customers from being removed from a plane. A spokesperson for United told the Times the change is part of the “initial steps” the airline is taking, so it’s unclear whether any more reforms to United’s booking and seating policies will be coming.

“We issued an updated policy to make sure crews traveling on our aircraft are booked at least 60 minutes prior to departure,” the spokesperson said. “This is one of our initial steps in a review of our policies.”

It’s worth noting that this change doesn’t mean a passenger couldn’t be bumped off a flight due to overbooking. It merely means that staff members will have to check in early enough that no passenger will be bumped off a plane after they’ve already boarded. In the aftermath of Dao’s violent removal, United also announced that law enforcement officers will no longer remove passengers from its flights, absent some kind of security threat.

It’s been reported that United could face litigation from Dao over the incident. According to his attorney, the 69-year-old suffered a concussion, a broken nose, and lost two teeth in the midst of the violent removal. In the immediate aftermath of the video going viral, United CEO Oscar Munoz sent an email to United employees that drew widespread criticism, in which he called Dao “belligerent” and “disruptive,” and suggested “our agents were left with no choice” but to forcibly remove him.

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