United Airlines created a firestorm of controversy this year when they forcibly removed David Dao from one of their overbooked flights. The combination of a weary traveler who just wanted to get home and an over-devotion to policy caused worldwide outrage — especially when video emerged of the doctor being literally dragged off a plane kicking and screaming. United was flayed by the public for their inhumanity. And then the news cycle moved on, dragging the rest of us to the next outrage. Well, United didn’t move on.
After some soul searching the airline has made some big moves to make sure what happened to David Dao won’t happen to again. The first move United made was to up their voluntary passenger compensation for giving up one’s seat to $10,000. Who among us wouldn’t take a cool ten grand to take a later flight? United didn’t stop there. They also hired a new team to find creative ways to get bumped passengers to their destinations when a flight is overbooked. And the latest tactic has United testing a bidding war for those willing to proffer their seats in select markets.
United released a statement explaining their plan, “As part of our commitment to further improve our customers’ travel experience with us, we plan to test an automated system that will offer customers an opportunity to voluntarily bid for a desired compensation amount in exchange for potentially changing travel plans if faced with an overbooked flight.” Basically, United will send passengers a text message and ask them to bid on a voucher to give up their seat on an overbooked flight. The lowest bid gets the voucher and someone else gets on the flight.
Delta already employs a similar system and it seems to be working. The question is, where is the sweet spot going to fall in the bidding? Surely, this also assures that United will never have to pay any single traveler the golden ticket of $10,000 for giving up a single seat, right? That aside, hopefully, it also means we won’t see any more passengers being dragged from their seats.
(Via The LA Times)