After the highly publicized incident involving a forcibly removed passenger that led to a personal injury lawsuit against United Airlines many travelers are duly concerned about their rights as airline passengers. Indeed, those familiar with the slogan" Fly The Friendly Skies" first introduced in 1965 refers to United Airlines implied promise advertising to be a warm and welcoming place for airline passengers. Incredible, isn't it that we are speaking of the same company today. Well, It certainly is true that the phrase did not come to mind to the individuals involved in the brutal and bloody eviction of Dr. David Dao for the sin of wanting to remain in the seat he had paid for. The three officers involved in his forcible removal were placed on leave pending an investigation. Airlines do in fact, have considerable leeway when it comes to denying entry of paying passengers onto an aircraft. However, there are limits and we now know you can't get away with injuring passengers in the process. That said, passengers do have rights who are involuntarily bumped on an overbooked flight. In fact, the airline must provide a written statement to the passenger"explaining why you're being bumped and your rights to compensation." The Department of Transportation requires airlines to compensate passengers up to $1,350 if they're involuntarily removed and arrive at their destination more than two hours later than planned on domestic flights. For international flights, the delay has to be at least four hours. You do not have to accept vouchers as long as you make your request at the time of removal that you must be paid by check. You would then entitled to be paid at the airport at the time of removal. As a result of the negative publicity generated by the United Airlines incident in which Dao, suffered a broken nose, the loss of two front teeth and head injuries while being forcibly dragged off a plane, some major airlines are taking it upon themselves to demonstrate more customer friendly policies. American Airlines for example now "promises that no passenger who has boarded a plane will be removed to give the seat to someone else." Delta has raised eyebrows with its offer to pay passengers up to $9,950 to give up their seat on an overbooked flight and United said its crews will be required to check an hour before a flight leaves to avoid customers who have already boarded. United's CEO, Oscar Munoz had described the horrific incident with the passenger as a "system failure" and a confidential settlement was quickly reached. Munoz added "We let our policies and procedures get in the way of doing the right thing." After initially making antagonistic comments about the passenger, Munoz then unreservedly apologized and assumed total responsibility for the incident. Now United has stated that soon they intend to increase compensation for up to $10,000.00 for customers willing to volunteer to take a later flight. In a further attempt to thwart the bad publicity generated by this incident, United said it will reduce overbookings on flights that historically haven't generated a lot of volunteers when oversold, particularly on smaller planes and the last flights of the day to a destination. Importantly, United has made the policy change of not calling on law enforcement to remove passengers from flights except for safety or security reasons. Later this year, United spokespersons said it would install an automated check-in process to gauge a customer's interest in giving up his or her seat on an overbooked flight in exchange for compensation. The airline also said is would give greater discretion to its employees to issue mileage vouchers for future flights and other compensation when bad service occurs-things that some of its rivals already do. A step in the right direction, yes. Friendlier skies, perhaps.
If you have a legal question or have suffered an injury while a passenger on any common carrier, it's important you consult with an experienced attorney so you can receive the compensation you deserve. Contact The Brod Law Firm online or call 1-888-435-7946 (888-HELPWIN) for a free consultation. We serve all of the state of Pennsylvania from our offices in Philadelphia, Reading and Bala Cynwyd.