United Updates Policy to Ensure No Seated Passengers Can Be Removed

In the wake of the David Dao scandal, United now requires employees to check in 60 minutes prior to departure.

United
United Airlines will still practice the "denied boarding process," but employees are now required to check in for overbooked flights 60 minutes prior to departure.Wikimedia Commons

The David Dao story is still producing countless headlines, but United Airlines has taken an "initial step" in fulfilling CEO Oscar Munoz's promise that this will "never happen again." Last week, TMZ published an airline memo that requires United crew to check in for "must-ride deadhead bookings on oversold flights" at least 60 minutes ahead of the flight's departure.

"We issued an updated policy to make sure crews traveling on our aircraft are booked at least 60 minutes prior to departure," United spokesperson Maggie Schmerin confirmed to the New York Times on Sunday. She also confirmed that the airline would never again allow law enforcement officials to remove seated passengers — specifically those who pose no security threat — from an airplane.

However, this doesn't mean an end to the controversial practice of overbooking flights, something that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has asked President Donald Trump's administration to put an end to until new rules can be made regarding "how the airlines can conduct themselves." This updated policy will require United staff to implement the "denied boarding process" at the gate, before passengers board the airplane. It simply means that seated passengers won't have to fear having their names randomly drawn for "re-accommodation."

Just as lawmakers have gotten involved in United's mess, Dao's story has also produced a snowball effect in the media. Over the weekend, a bride and groom were reportedly kicked off a United airplane leaving Houston for Costa Rica, where they'll wed this week. While no one was physically harmed in the incident, news outlets have pounced on the story, despite United's official statement claiming the couple ignored multiple instructions to return to their seats after they "repeatedly attempted to sit in upgraded seating which they did not purchase."

Additionally, a Houston journalist's lawsuit against United is getting attention because the allegations of airline staff violence are similar to the Dao incident. If that isn't enough, a United passenger was stung by a scorpion that fell from the overhead bin during a flight from Houston to Calgary. That passenger was later released from a hospital without issue, and he reportedly has no plans to sue the airline.