The Chicago, Illinois-based United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) has reached a settlement with Dr. David Dao, the passenger they dragged down forcefully as the flight was overbooked, breaking his teeth and nose in the process. The incident led to a worldwide criticism of United and calls to boycott the carrier. Footage taken by other passengers showed Dao staying calm and composed even while he was been dragged from the flight, which was worse. It quickly became a PR disaster for the business.
Dao’s family later said they were shocked at the incident and promised never to fly on United again. They said their immediate target was the wellbeing of Dao but did not rule out going to court against the carrier. The family said Dao not only lost teeth and broke his nose in the incident, but he also suffered concussions later.
United Airlines Reaches a Settlement
The lawyers of Dao, a doctor who was trying to reach back home to his waiting patients, announced the settlement on Thursday. However, the financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed. On Thursday, both sides welcomed and hoped this will be the end of the ordeal. United has confirmed the settlement.
According to reports, Oscar Munoz, the Chief Executive, called Dao many times after the incident offering his apologies and urging him to reach a settlement.
Changes Announced By United Airlines After the Incident
United says it was a police officer who actually removed the passenger and not a staff member of the carrier. However, Munoz says they are taking full responsibility for the incident and vows that the airline will never again use officers to forcibly remove paying customers from their flights. The officer has since then been suspended for using force and injuring David Dao.
The airline has also changed their booking policy after the incident and linked the pay of their executives to customer happiness. United is also promising to do everything possible to make their passengers feel more comfortable both on and off the flight. Other airline companies are also reportedly changing their policies. The incident and the global criticism that followed has certainly shaken up the industry.
Stung by what happened after the removal by force, the United board also announced that Oscar Munoz will not take over as the Chairman next year.
The Chief Executive received a lot of flak for apologizing only for “having to re-accommodate customers” and referring to the customer as “disruptive and belligerent”. He even sent a letter to United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) employees praising them for following “established protocols”.