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United outlines policy changes following forced removal

United Airlines plans to make at least 10 passenger service policy changes following the forced removal of a passenger from a flight earlier in April.

The "substantial" changes include increasing the incentives for passengers who give up their seats on oversold flights to up to $10,000, creating an automated system to solicit volunteers in oversold situations and reducing the number of overbooked flights, the Chicago-based carrier says in a statement. In addition, once passengers are seated on an aircraft they will not be removed except for safety or security reasons.

These changes are in addition to ones previously announced, including that United will no longer invite law enforcement onto its aircraft unless it is required for security or safety, and requiring that must-ride crews reserve seats up to 60min before departure.

"Every customer deserves to be treated with the highest levels of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect," says Oscar Munoz, chief executive of United, in a statement. "Actions speak louder than words. Today, we are taking concrete, meaningful action to make things right and ensure nothing like this ever happens again."

The changes follow the forced removal of David Dao from United flight 3411 operated by Republic Airlines on 9 April. Dao was physically removed by Chicago Aviation Department security personnel to make space for must-ride employees on the flight from Chicago O'Hare to Louisviile.

Dao suffered a concussion, broken nose and lost two teeth in the incident, according to his lawyer. He is likely to sue the airline and city, his lawyer has said.

The incident touched a nerve with US passengers after a video of Dao being removed was posted to social media.

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have also changed some of their policies regarding overbooked flights in the wake of the incident. American will no longer remove a passenger from a flight if they are already seated on an aircraft, and Delta has increased its compensation to passengers who give up their seats to up to $10,000.

Munoz has said that no one at United will be fired following the 9 April incident and has received board support for his moves. However, he will no longer become the carrier's chairman in 2018 under an amendment to his contract since the incident.

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