The actions of United Airlines on Sunday night and the outrage that followed their attempts to respond on Monday raised a lot of questions. How did the airline end up in that situation and what led them to forcefully remove passengers from the flight? There are also many questions for the authorities behind the controversial removal of a 69-year-old doctor, but that aspect seems to be the problem of the Chicago Aviation Police.
The decisions prior to that point lie solely on the airline, though, and are seemingly rare occurrences according to Business Insider. They spoke with aviation analyst Henry Harteveldt and concluded that the situation was indeed rare, but still needed to follow the proper procedures under United’s regulations. And according to Harteveldt, it did… up to the point when the police were involved.
According to Business Insider, United and other airlines have a process for the “re-accommodation” of passengers on overbooked flights or when unforeseen circumstances create the need for opening up seats on a packed flight. The process and criteria can be found in the Contract of Carriage document you agree to when you purchase your tickets — Rule 25 to be exact. It all starts with the asking of volunteers and offers to those passengers to give up their seats:
First, airlines will ask for volunteers — through email, at check-in, or at the gate. These requests for volunteers will typically come with anything ranging from cash to hotel rooms to a first-class upgrade on a later flight.
According to Harteveldt, there is no federal limit to the amount of money an airline can offer its passenger to deplane.