United promises to refocus on passengers

CHICAGO – United Airlines set out to repair its image Thursday, with its chief executive promising to refocus on customers as the company announced changes following the infamous dragging incident that caused worldwide outrage.

The airline will now offer passengers up to $10,000 in compensation to be bumped off overbooked flights, and reduce overbooking in the first place.

Those and other changes, which the airline called “substantial,” are the result of a two-week internal probe of the April 9 incident, video of which went viral.

Passenger David Dao was pulled from his seat and dragged off the full plane by airport security in Chicago to make room for airline crew.

The 69-year-old doctor suffered a concussion, and a broken nose and teeth, according to his lawyers.

In an interview Thursday with NBC News, United chief executive Oscar Munoz said the airline will refocus its business by “putting the customer at the center” and avoiding issues in which employees, passengers and law enforcement are placed in “impossible situations.”

Video of Dao’s ordeal captured by fellow Flight 3411 passengers — which included images of the doctor bloodied — triggered widespread indignation.

After initial missteps in which the company appeared to at least partially blame Dao, the carrier and Munoz apologized repeatedly and launched the internal review to find out what went wrong.

“We breached public trust, and it’s a serious breach,” Munoz told NBC News.

The carrier’s report highlighted 10 changes, including increasing its cash enticement to $10,000, effective Friday, to get customers to voluntarily give up their seats on overbooked flights.

The crew on Flight 3411 had only offered $1,000, the report said.-AFP