Physician Dragged Off Plane Settles With United Airlines

Disclosures

April 27, 2017

David Dao, MD, who was dragged off a United Airlines aircraft April 9 because he refused to surrender his seat to a last-minute passenger on a fully boarded flight, has reached a settlement with the airline, United and the physician's attorneys announced today.

The much maligned and repentant airline also unveiled new policies today to ensure that no more passengers are removed by force from overbooked or fully booked flights

The settlement is for the injuries that the 69-year-old Dr Dao received, his attorneys stated in a news release. Money changed hands, but as part of the settlement, the amount remains confidential, they said.

Earlier, the attorneys said that the incident on the flight, captured on video and sparking an international outcry about airline customer service, left Dr Dao with a concussion, a broken nose, and two broken front teeth.

The United flight from Chicago to Louisville was fully boarded when the airline needed to board four crew members of a flight scheduled to leave Louisville the next day. When passengers declined to voluntarily surrender their seats for an $800 travel credit and hotel and meal money, the airline selected Dr Dao, his wife, and two others for involuntary removal. Dr Dao refused to leave, saying he was a physician who needed to be in Louisville the next day for work. Three police officers dragged him off the plane by his hands.

Dr Dao's attorneys initially had planned to sue United, which defended the actions of its employees at first.

United Airlines today announced new policies to make its customer service gentler. Among other things, the airline said it would:

  • limit the use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only,

  • not require boarded passengers to surrender their seats involuntarily "unless safety or security is at risk,"

  • increase incentives for voluntary seat bumping to as much as $10,000, and

  • reduce the amount of overbooking.

"We can never say we are sorry enough for what occurred, but we also know meaningful actions will speak louder than words," the airline said on its website.

Thomas Demetrio, one of Dr Dao's attorneys, praised United for taking full responsibility for his client's ordeal and reforming its policies.

"Dr Dao has become an unintended champion for the adoption of changes which will certainly help improve the lives of literally millions of travellers," Demetrio said.

Follow Robert Lowes on Twitter @LowesRobert

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