United's New Way to Handle Overbooked Passengers Is a Bidding Scheme
United Airlines has a new solution to its overbooking problems: Put the passengers in a bidding war.
Following a widely publicized incident earlier this year in which passenger David Dao was dragged off a flight to make room for a crew member, United has looked to revise their overbooking policy overall.
The new system, which is still in a trial phase, would allow passengers to place bids on how much money they would be willing to accept to give up their seat on an overbooked flight. United would then select the passenger or passengers with the lowest bids, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“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,” United Airlines said in a statement.
The new system will begin in a trial phase next month in select airports, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The policy is just the latest attempt to revise their overbooking policy following the dragging incident with David Dao.
In April, just weeks after the dragging video went viral, the airline announced that they would offer up to $10,000 to passengers who gave up their seats on overbooked flights. Most airlines capped their offers of vouchers at $1,350, according to The New York Times, though many have revised their policies in the past five months.
United put forth another plan in July, where they would inform passengers of their status on potentially overbooked flights up to five days ahead of their scheduled flight. These passengers would then have the opportunity to reschedule their flight within a 24-hour window of their original departure and receive a voucher.
The plan supported the company’s bottom line as it would allow them to rebook passengers in advance and free up seats for last-minute travelers who might be willing to spend multiple times over what the original ticket was worth.