NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — United Airlines announced Thursday that it had reached a settlement with Dr. David Dao.
The airline had been faced with fierce public backlash after Dao was seen on cell phone video being dragged off a flight after refusing to give up his seat for a United Airlines crewmember earlier this month.
“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 center of everything we do,” United said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.
“If I were him, I would ask for a lot,” United passenger Roger Salinas told CBS2’s Valerie Castro. “Definitely, he deserves it.”
“I think it’s good because he got money, but I do think that the laws definitely have to change in regards to the passengers,” said Karen Mendez of Clifton, New Jersey.
Coverage From CBS Chicago: Jeremy Ross Reports
Dao’s attorneys Thomas Demetrio and Stephen Golan praised United chief executive officer Oscar Munoz for the settlement.
“Mr. Munoz said he was going to do the right thing, and he has. In addition, United has taken full responsibility for what happened on Flight 3411, without attempting to blame others, including the City of Chicago,” Demetrio said. “For this acceptance of accountability, United is to be applauded.”
United Airlines issued new guidelines following the incident, CBS Chicago reported.
In addition to offering up to $10,000 to passengers to change flights when flights are overbooked, United said it no longer will require customers to give up their seat once they have boarded the plane, unless there is a safety or security risk involved. As previously announced, United also will no longer ask law enforcement to remove a passenger from a flight unless there is a safety or security issue.
“My starting point to negotiate is going to be a lot higher now, because they’re announcing what their maximums are,” a traveler at O’Hare told Jeremy Ross of WBBM-TV, CBS2 Chicago.
The other policy changes announced Thursday include promises to:
• Establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportations to get customers to their final destination.
• Ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
• Provide employees with additional annual training.
• Create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.
• Reduce the amount of overbooking.
• Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.
• Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a “no questions asked” policy on lost luggage. The airline will pay $1,500 for permanently lost bags without asking for documentation of the value of the belongings.
“United realized that its policies, its technology, its training were all inadequate and they’ve taken steps to correct that,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group.
The changes came in response to worldwide outcry over the violent removal of Dao from United Flight 3411.
“It’s going to take the airline a long time, perhaps even several years to live down the infamy of what happened on Flight 3411,” Harteveldt said.
In a new report, the airline called the incident a “defining moment.”
“Dr. Dao has become the unintended champion for the adoption of changes which will certainly help improve the lives of literally millions of travelers,” Demetrio said.
Munoz once again apologized.
“It happened because policies were placed ahead of our shared values and procedures got in the way of what we know is right,” Munoz said.
Not all the changes will happen immediately, and United hinted that there could be additional changes down the road, Ross reported.
Other airlines were also making changes Thursday. Southwest Airlines announced that it will no longer overbook flights.