The forced removal of David Dao, a 69 year old passenger, from a United Airlines flight caused nationwide outrage earlier this month. And other airlines are taking steps to ensure they’re not next in the public crossfire.
If you’ll recall, and you may need a refresher since this happened light years three weeks ago, Dao was selected to exit his United Airlines flight to make room for the crew in an overbooking situation. When he refused, Chicago airport security used force to literally drag him off the plane, injuring him in the process. United became the worst company in the world, Dao is suing, and other airlines are starting to respond.
One positive development for frequent fliers could be the elimination of the unpopular overbooking process. Already one major airline, Southwest, has said they will no longer overbook flights.
Here’s the news via Business Insider:
Southwest Airlines will no longer overbook flights, CEO Gary Kelly said on CNBC on Thursday.
“I’ve made the decision, the company has made the decision, that we will cease to overbook going forward,” Kelly said. “We’ve been taking steps over the last few years to prepare for this anyway.”
Kelly didn’t say when exactly the new policy will be put in place, but said “it’s something that we will be discontinuing here very shortly.” Southwest joins JetBlue in the commitment to end overbooking.
It makes a lot of sense for airlines to move in this direction. No amount of coins that can be saved by overbooking flights can equate the pure public relations nightmare that sent United’s stock tanking. United Airlines lost over $250 million in value as a company after Dao was dragged off one of their planes and the bottom hasn’t probably been reached yet.
For Southwest Airlines to go public with this means that they’ll probably earn a lot of goodwill with passengers and may even pick up a new customer or two. Who would’ve thunk it! A good relationship with consumers and happy customers can actually be beneficial for the airline industry?!?!