Following an incident in which a passenger was violently removed from a flight, United Airlines last week unveiled a number of policy changes — including increasing compensation for bumping passengers, reducing overbooking, and providing more employee training — meant to ensure such incidents don’t happen in the future. Now, the carrier’s CEO says those changes won’t be the last.
In an interview with USA Today’s sky blog, United chief Oscar Munoz says that airline has more changes in the works to make traveling easier and better for passengers.
While the policy updates announced so far have been in direct response to the April 9 incident in which Dr. David Dao was forcibly removed from a flight after refusing to give up his seat, future changes will be aimed toward the airline’s overall customer service experience.
“This is less about changing the culture at United and more about updating policies that may be hindering employees from helping customers,” Munoz said. “Our culture is there. It’s always been there. We just needed to give it some freedom to operate.”
Munoz says this means empowering employees to do things in the moment to assist passengers. For example, he points to the airline’s upcoming lost baggage policy change.
Starting this summer, the airline will cut down on the paperwork passengers have to fill out when their bags have been permanently lost and increase compensation up to $1,500.
“Gosh darn it, if we’ve lost your bag and we can’t find it, we shouldn’t put you through hell trying to figure out where receipts are for the bag and pair the socks and underwear that you bought months or years ago,” Munoz said. “It’s stupid. It doesn’t make sense.”
As for Flight 3411, Munoz admits the incident put the airline under a spotlight.
“So, we have to manage it as best as possible,” Munoz said. “On a broader point, all these actions we’ve taken are important. But I’ve really found myself reflecting just more broadly on the role we play and the responsibilities we have to all the communities we serve.”
To that end, Munoz concedes the airline must rebuild trust with customers. The carrier will start by rolling out an unspecified “values-oriented” initiative.
“Our challenge is just to fly the way we’ve always done, which is friendly, and prove to folks that there’s nothing for them to worry about,” he said. “And I think our new policies will be a plus.”