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Sunday 20 August 2017

Doctor dragged off United flight settles case with airline

United has settled the case with passenger David Dao, who was removed from a flight earlier this month (David J Phillip/AP)
United has settled the case with passenger David Dao, who was removed from a flight earlier this month (David J Phillip/AP)

A doctor who was dragged off a United flight after he refused to give up his seat to crew members has reached a settlement with the airline for undisclosed amount.

David Dao's legal team announced the settlement in a brief statement on Thursday, saying the agreement includes a provision that the amount will remain confidential.

Mobile phone footage of the April 9 confrontation on board a plane at Chicago's O'Hare Airport sparked widespread public outrage over the treatment of Mr Dao.

The footage showed airport police officers pulling the 69-year-old father-of-five from his seat and dragging him down the aisle. His lawyer claimed he lost teeth and suffered a broken nose and concussion in the incident.

Earlier, United announced steps it would take to reduce overbooking of flights. Among other things, the airline said it will raise the limit on payments to customers who give up seats on oversold flights to 10,000 dollars (£7,750) and it will improve training of employees.

Mr Dao's lead attorney, Thomas Demetrio, praised the airline and its chief executive, Oscar Munoz, for accepting responsibility and not blaming others, including the city of Chicago, whose airport security officers yanked Mr Dao from his seat and dragged him off the United Express plane.

Mr Dao never filed a lawsuit against United, but Mr Demetrio had said legal action was likely.

Mr Dao was waiting to fly to Louisville, Kentucky, an April 9 when the airline decided it needed four seats for Republic Airline crew members who needed to travel to work another United Express flight in Louisville the next morning. When Mr Dao and his wife were selected for bumping, he refused to leave.

Video of the incident has sparked more than two weeks of criticism and mockery of United. Mr Munoz initially blamed Mr Dao, but later said he was horrified by the event and called it a failure on United's part.

On Thursday, United released a report on the incident that outlined new policies to prevent a repeat. The airline vowed to reduce, but not eliminate, overbooking - the selling of more tickets than there are seats on the plane.

United will not say whether ticket sales have dropped, but the airline's chief executive acknowledged the incident could be damaging.

"I breached public trust with this event and how we responded," Mr Munoz said. "People are upset, and I suspect that there are a lot of people potentially thinking of not flying us."

To head off customer defections, United had already announced that it will no longer call police to remove passengers from overbooked flights, and will require airline crews travelling for work to check in sooner.

Earlier on Thursday Southwest Airlines, which bumped the most passengers off its planes in 2016, announced plans to stop overbooking flights, citing the United incident as a catalyst.

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