United Airlines has a pointed question in their online check-in process: “Are you interested in possibly taking a different flight in exchange for a travel certificate?”
Translation: Are you okay with being bumped?
In the days since the event, United has apologized for the incident and changed their policy on displacing passengers from overbooked flights. Their new rule states that crew members will not be able to bump a passenger who is already seated in one of the airline’s planes, according to NPR.
United is also using a pre-flight buffer against similar overbooking incidents. A passenger checking in for a United flight via the airline’s website on Thursday reported to PEOPLE that he encountered the full-screen message below.
The page, which the same passenger confirms he did not see when checking into a different United flight this past Sunday, asks “Are you interested in possibly taking a different flight in exchange for a travel certificate,” helping the airline to identify which passengers have flexible travel plans and are therefore more amenable to being bumped to another flight if theirs is overbooked.
It goes on to explain that the “certificate dollar amounts may vary, but are at least $200” and that “The United representative at the gate will confirm the amount prior to changing your reservation.” The passenger has the opportunity to select “No, Thanks,” however, it’s not clear if choosing this option ensures the passenger will not be bumped.
In a statement to PEOPLE, a representative for United clarified, “Reaching out to customers before their flights allows our gate agents to easily identify customers who have flexible travel plans. For several years we have issued this notification when people check in at the airport or their computer at home. The amount offered varies by flight.”
The United spokesperson adds, “At the same time, we are conducting a comprehensive review of our broader customer experience and look forward to communicating the results of that review and the customer-focused actions we will take by April 30.”