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United Airlines (UAL) on Thursday reached a settlement with David Dao, the passenger who was shown in video being dragged from a United Express flight earlier this month. The settlement was said to remain confidential.
The news, first reported by CNBC and soon confirmed by the airline, came hours after United released a review of the incident and unveiled or reiterated policy changes to make service better.
"We are pleased to report that United and Dr. Dao have reached an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard flight 3411," United said in a brief statement. "We look forward to implementing the improvements we have announced, which will put our customers at the center of everything we do."
After the incident, in which Chicago aviation security dragged Dao from a flight headed from that city to Louisville, Ky. after he refused to give up his seat, Dao's lawyer said a lawsuit was likely. Video showed Dao with his face bloodied, and the attorney representing him said he had broken his nose, lost two front teeth and suffered a concussion.
United fell 1% to 70.60 in late afternoon trade in the stock market today, near session highs. Airline shares in general were lower on Thursday, with American Airlines' (AAL) proposed pay raise to pilots and flight attendants raising concerns about costs.
Earlier Thursday, United said it would raise its payout ceiling for travelers bumped from flights to $10,000. The company, which promised the review of that incident by April 30, after it drew worldwide anger, also said it would reduce overbookings.
United said "adjustments have been made to reduce overbookings on flights that historically have experienced lower volunteer rates, particularly flights on smaller aircraft and the last flights of the day to a particular destination."
Among the other changes United outlined, some of which are already in place, the carrier said it would restrict use of law enforcement "to safety and security issues only" and not make passengers involuntarily give up their seat unless it posed a risk to security and safety. The carrier also said it would "ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure."
Employees would also get more training and flexibility to resolve issues with passengers, United said. An app for employees that the company will make available this year is intended to help staff compensate passengers more easily when problems arise.
The company also committed to creating a customer relations team — expected to be up and running by June — to help gate agents look at other options if flights are packed. Those could include using other airlines, nearby airports and even ground transit, United said.
United also said it would develop an automated system to seek people willing to change flights. That system, set to be introduced later this year, will have a new automated check-in process that will assess a person's willingness to give up their seat, in exchange for compensation, on overbooked flights.
United said its procedure for involuntary boarding denials is automated, and that customers "with the lowest paid fare are placed at the top of the list for involuntary denial of boarding." Frequent flyers "will not be involuntarily denied boarding, unless all of the remaining passengers have frequent flyer status, in which case the lowest status will move to the top of the IDB list."
The carrier said that there were 3,765 involuntary denied boarding incidents, down 44% from 2015 and below the average of airlines that report statistics to the Department of Transportaiton.
United tends to overbook flights by "less than 0-3 percent of the plane's seat capacity," it said. Roughly four percent of flights have more passengers than seats.