United Airlines passengers can now submit auction-like bids naming the amount of compensation they’d like to receive for being “bumped” in advance from overbooked flights, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The new policy is intended to reduce the need to bump passengers from flights after they have already arrived at the airport. It resembles a bidding regime previously put into place by rival Delta, which allows customers to submit bids via text message.
“As part of our commitment to further improve our customers’ travel experience with us, we plan to test an automated system that will offer customers an opportunity to voluntarily bid for a desired compensation amount in exchange for potentially changing travel plans if faced with an overbooked flight,” United said in a statement.
The programme will be tested beginning next month in several US markets. Bumping became a public-relations nightmare for United earlier this year when a passenger was forcibly removed from a flight in Chicago after refusing to be involuntarily bumped from his flight.
United subsequently apologized and changed its policies to prohibit bumping once passengers are seated on the plane. Earlier this year, the airline began testing the feasibility of offering payments to travellers as an incentive to get them to voluntarily change their travel plans in advance of the day of travel.