David Dao, the doctor who was dragged off a United Airlines flight this month, has settled with the airline for an undisclosed amount, according to a report in The New York Times. The April 9 episode sparked widespread outrage and quickly became a public relations nightmare for United. An attorney for Dao said United “has taken full responsibility” for what happened on Flight 3411 without trying to blame others including the City of Chicago. A United spokesman said an amicable resolution has been reached. The airline has promised to make improvements and put customers first.
Earlier, United announced a number of measures to prevent such episodes from happening again in the future and said passengers who arrived on an aircraft should not have to relinquish their seats. The airline also said it would create a new check-in process that would allow passengers to volunteer to give up their seats for compensation, and increased the limit of compensation from $1,350 to $10,000. United had previously stated that it would no longer remove passengers from planes over booking issues and that crew members would not replace passengers who have already boarded the flight.
Injuries and Public Uproar
Dao had suffered a concussion and a broken nose and lost two teeth as a result of the violent incident. The doctor who was flying from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, was one of four passengers who were randomly selected by the airline to exit the plane to make room for four employees who, according to the airline, needed to get to Kentucky. The video that went viral showed Dao getting yanked out of his seat, injuring his head and bleeding in the face.
Officers then dragged the bloodied passenger down the aisle of the aircraft as several others watched horrified. Many of them had captured the incident on their cellphones and later talked to the media about Dao’s ordeal. Dao’s attorney also said United never had any legal basis to remove him from his seat. United also released a report saying it needs to become more customer-friendly, promising to reduce the number of flights it overbooks. Overbooking is a common airline practice to make sure they have as few unfilled seats as possible.
A Lesson for All Airlines
The silver lining here is that this incident increased public scrutiny of how airlines treat their customers. Following this incident, there were stories in the media about how consumers were treated on other airlines such as American and Delta. This incident and the subsequent lawsuit have shed the limelight on this important issue.