Since the violent removal of a David Dao from a flight in April, United Airlines has implemented a series of passengers friendly policy changes aimed at improving their public image that has taken a severe beating as a result of the incident.
Among those changes is a pledge by the airline to create an automated system by which passengers on oversold flights who are willing to alter their travel plans can be identified and compensated.
On Friday, United confirmed that this automated system will use an auction-based format that will allow passengers to enter bids for how much money it will take for them to give up their seats on an oversold flight.
“As part of our commitment to further improve our customers’ travel experience with us, we plan to test an automated system that will offer customers an opportunity to voluntarily bid for a desired compensation amount in exchange for potentially changing travel plans if faced with an overbooked flight,” an airline spokesman told Business Insider. “United has already taken steps to reduce overbooking, resulting in a 90 percent year-over-year reduction in involuntary denied boardings.”
While the April incident did not involve an oversold flight, it did stem from a situation where United failed to effectively identify passengers willing to give up their seat.
With the new auction system, passengers will be eligible for as much as $10,000 in compensation to give up their seats. The system is expected to launch sometime in October, but United declined to share with us the exact date it will go into effect. However, Skift’s Brian Sumers tweeted that the system could be in operation as early as October 3rd along with an accurate image of its user interface.
— Brian Sumers (@BrianSumers) September 21, 2017
The concept of an auction-based system is not new. Delta Air Lines has had a similar system since 2011, allowing customers to enter bids on their mobile devices or at check-in kiosks.