LEAKED EMAIL FROM UNITED: They’ll No Longer Swap Employees for Passengers Within 60 Minutes of a Flight

United hasn’t publicly announced any new or changed procedures in the aftermath of the passenger dragged off a flight and bloodied by officers called by the airline to the scene other than to say they won’t call police in a similar situation in the future unless it’s necessary ‘for safety and security’ which is a loophole wide enough to ram one of the airline’s few remaining 747s through.

However – and although it hasn’t been publicly announced beyond employees – Point Me to the Plane reports that United will apparently no longer substitute crew for passengers on sold out flights within an hour of departure.

That means in the future involuntary denied boardings when the airline wants crew to fly and not paying passengers will be done prior to boarding instead of taking passengers out of their seats once they’ve entered the plane.

Here’s the internal memo being circulated:

    Title: Inflight Services Alert
    Sender: Inflight Administration
    Date: April 14, 2017 15:22 CT

    Inflight Services Alert – Scheduling – Must ride crewmember: Oversale limitations

    Friday, April 14, 2017

    Effective immediately, Crew Scheduling is now only able to make must-ride deadhead bookings on oversold flights if it is 60 minutes or more before the estimate time of departure.

    This is so the denied boarding process in an oversell situation may be implemented in a gate or lobby area and not on board the aircraft.

    If you do not have a reservation for your deadhead segment and it is within the 60-minute window before departure, contact Crew Scheduling and they will book you on the next available flight.

    • There will be no deviation from the policy above.
    • This policy change has no impact on existing crew check-in times.
    • No must ride crew member can displace a customer who has boarded an aircraft

    This new Scheduling Alert is also available on the United News app and on Flying Together. Ensure you are familiar with this content prior to your next trip.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. So, if the situation arises like it did last weekend (last minute crew needing to work a flight the next morning) occurs, what are they going to do? Inconvenience a likely full flight on Monday morning because of the events of last weekend? I’m just trying to see how this all plays out as I fly early on Monday mornings and rely on the crew getting there in time to work the flight.

  2. I’ve been a 1K for the last 8 years, and Exec Plat for the last 2. My clearance rate of GPU’s has dwindled to 8.75%, based on tracking the number of times GPU’s have cleared vs. not (compared with 82% clearance rate on American SWU’s during the same period). Just one example of an airline that has degenerated to squeezing every last penny out of passengers instead of honoring promises made.

    The only I know to convey my displeasure to United is by switching to American full time. United: Goodbye & good riddance.

  3. Yes, instead of having a passenger beaten up so badly that he needs reconstructive surgery, they’re going to risk inconveniencing an entire plane load.

    Do you really want to argue that it’s better to beat someone bloody so that people can make their flight the next day?

  4. @Jim How about they plan ahead and do a competent job so they don’t end up in that situation? If they can’t figure this stuff out an hour before takeoff then people need to be fired.

  5. Seems like raising the compensation is the only thing necessary as everyone would voluntarily not board for some price.

  6. JL, from the airline’s point of view, allowing gate agents too much flexibility in granting compensation is expensive. Giving a passenger $500 who would have taken $300 is a $200 “unnecessary” cost. A few thousand of them and it would show up in the bottom line.

    As for the must-fly crew: I don’t read that message as saying they have to be at the gate an hour before the flight, but that they have to *book* their seat an hour before take-off. I expect there have been times, possibly including the recent United case, where the crew knew they needed seats but didn’t take the time to book them, focusing on getting themselves to the gate before the doors closed. The new directive makes sure the gate agent knows the crew is probably coming in time to ask for volunteers and negotiate compensation. If the must-fly crew don’t get there in time, the volunteers are thanked and allowed to board. (I would suggest that some token, perhaps a free drink ticket or some FF miles, be granted to the volunteers anyway; those of us who volunteer and are not accepted pay a price in uncertainty and overhead bag space.)

  7. The big push begins for the airlines to self solve the overbooking problems before they are legislated away.

    Airlines should be able to overbook flights as a business model. If the airlines provide incentives, volunteers will generally be sufficient to solve the oversale situations.

    If Congress or the Dot is interested in solving the involuntary denied boarding problems, they’ll need to make the required passenger compensation amounts high enough to have it sting the airlines.

    While It remains a relatively small problem, airlines need find it unprofitable to involuntarily deny boarding. Once that happens, the airlines will find sufficient volunteers.

  8. I guess this will substantially reduce the cost/compensation of denied boarding as well as eliminating the on-board auction and theatre we have recently seen.

  9. @unhappy 1k – how do you have a 8% clearance rate on your global premier upgrades? You clearly aren’t doing something right. I’m a 1K too, and have probably a 90% success rate on my GPUs. What are you trying to book? I’ve got a FCO-EWR and LHR-IAD GPU that cleared at booking. Gotta look for that R space!

  10. This is not law. It isn’t even in the Contract of Carriage.

    It will be soon removed by United (and no that won’t be “leaked” to shills like Gary)

    More fluff from the oligopolistic airlines.

  11. “L, from the airline’s point of view, allowing gate agents too much flexibility in granting compensation is expensive. Giving a passenger $500 who would have taken $300 is a $200 “unnecessary” cost. A few thousand of them and it would show up in the bottom line.”

    And how much “unnecessary cost” is this event taking out of United’s coffers?

  12. If this is a policy change by United, what effect if any would it have in the Dr. Dao situation as that was entirely on Republic metal and a Republic crew involved? If United doesn’t mandate the same change for all its regionals, regular pax will see no difference on most flights.

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