Overbooking is not a new problem. But having a cell phone video of just about every move you make in public is a growing concern for all us...not just the airlines. United today announced it is making adjustments to its overbooking policy based on the incident earlier this month. After you are finished reading this post, you can read the new policy updates here from United's website.
We all watched the April fiasco in horror (like an episode of the OA) where some guy was dragged off a plane all because the flight was overbooked and United needed to get its crew members on board. And while this incident was bottom line ridiculous, this incident speaks volumes about a much larger issue. I really hate to wax poetic about the past, but it wasn't that long ago when airlines truly empowered their employees to solve passenger issues, efficiently and with mutual satisfaction from all parties. More and more airlines (and other hospitality product suppliers) are opting to pay front line employees lower wages and cutting hours to part-time status. Well, you get what you pay for. The airlines, in my opinion, aren't on the forefront of attracting young, eager and energetic young professionals to join the ranks of aviation customer service. Then again...work at a ticket counter and deal with the general public interacting with a company (or an industry) that we Americans LOVE to hate? No thanks. Nevertheless, it is an issue that must be addressed because incidents like the one in April will continue and we will all have front row seats on YouTube.
That being said, I applaud United for making swift updates to policies and hopefully the incident is a HUGE wake up call to airlines. Incidentally, the Department of Transportation just released new data last month (March) and according to government data, Southwest is twice as likely to bump you off your flight than United.
PS. If I am on a flight and someone threatens to throw me off the plane because it's oversold, my response will be "whenever you're feelin' froggy...just leap."
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, Beyond Your Backyard, I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!