Three weeks after a Kentucky doctor was dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight, the company’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, is testifying on Capitol Hill before the House Transportation Committee.
On Tuesday morning, Munoz, who was joined by leadership from other airlines, faced questions about the incident and what’s being done to improve airline customer service policies.
Munoz started off with another apology for the April 9 incident in which Dr. David Dao was violently removed from a United Airlines flight. Dao suffered a concussion, a broken nose, lost two front teeth and needs facial reconstruction, according to his attorney, Thomas A. Demetrio.
“We had a horrible failure three weeks ago. It is not who we are,” Munoz said. “We will do better.”
“Our employees did not have the authority to do what was right or use common sense,” Munoz continued. “This has to be a turning point for 87,000 professionals here at United.”
Just last week, Dao reached a confidential settlement with United Airlines.
Dao’s attorney praised Munoz for agreeing to the settlement.
“Mr. Munoz said he was going to do the right thing, and he has. In addition, United has taken full responsibility for what happened on Flight 3411, without attempting to blame others, including the City of Chicago. For this acceptance of corporate accountability, United is to be applauded,” he said in a statement.
The settlement was reached on the same day United Airlines announced policy changes to improve customer experience. According to Demetrio, “Dr. Dao has become the unintended champion for the adoption of changes which will certainly help improve the lives of literally millions of travelers.”
He added: “I sincerely hope that all other airlines make similar changes and follow United’s lead in helping to improve the passenger flying experience with an emphasis on empathy, patience, respect and dignity.”
The new United Airlines guidelines include raising the limit on compensation to $10,000 for customers who give up their seats, limiting use of law enforcement to security issues only and reduce the amount of overbooking on flights.