United Airlines is upgrading its policy on last minute staff seats after receiving public backlash over a viral video in which a passenger was seen dragged from the plane in order to make room for cabin crew.

Announced over the long weekend, the update will require flight crew to allocate staff seats on fully booked services at least one hour before departure, CNN reported.

The carrier said the change will improve customer service. It also gives the airline enough time to approach any affected customers prior to boarding and organise a re-booking deal in private.

The move comes less than a week after footage of passenger Dr David Dao being forcibly removed from a United plane captured the attention of millions of travellers worldwide.


In the short clip, the man is heard refusing to disembark the aircraft before local police offers rip him from his seat and unexpectedly send him flying face first into an arm rest.

Despite fellow passengers urging police officers to find a less violent solution to the situation, they then grab the man’s arms and drag him down the aircraft aisle.

The situation was intensified on social media when United CEO, Oscar Munoz, failed to mention the excessively rough treatment in his initial apology.

His first statement simply apologised for the “upsetting event” and having to “re-accommodate these customers”.

United CEO

However, less than 24 hours later, Munoz issued a second apology in which he assured travellers that he shared their “outrage, anger [and] disappointment” and stressed that the airline would take responsibility in fixing “what’s broken so that it never happens again”.

In an online statement, Munoz said the carrier would review crew movement, its policies for incentivising volunteers in overbooked situations, how oversold situations are handled and how the airline partners with airport authorities and local law enforcement.

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