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United unveils 10 policy changes, will pay bumped passengers up to $10,000

United Airlines has announced 10 policy changes after a video of passenger David Dao being dragged off a plane went viral earlier this month.

>> Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat

In what may be the biggest change, the airline will now offer travelers as much as $10,000 to relinquish their seats on overbooked flights, up from $1,350, according to Bloomberg.

>> United Airlines passengers describe scene as man dragged off flight

In a Thursday news release, the airline also pledged to take the following actions:

  • “Limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.
  • “Not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.
  • “Establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportation to get customers to their final destination.
  • “Ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
  • “Provide employees with additional annual training.
  • “Create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.
  • “Reduce the amount of overbooking.
  • “Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.
  • “Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a 'no questions asked' policy on lost luggage.”

In a statement, United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized for the incident and said the airline is "taking concrete, meaningful action to make things right and ensure nothing like this ever happens again."

>> United Airlines changes policy after man dragged from plane

"Our review shows that many things went wrong that day, but the headline is clear: Our policies got in the way of our values and procedures interfered in doing what's right," Munoz said. "This is a turning point for all of us at United, and it signals a culture shift toward becoming a better, more customer-focused airline. Our customers should be at the center of everything we do, and these changes are just the beginning of how we will earn back their trust."

>> Read more trending news

Read more here.

Giant 3-foot rabbit found dead on United Airlines flight

While still dealing with legal action and negative public relations after a man was forcibly dragged from a flight, United Airlines is now investigating an incident in which a giant rabbit was found dead aboard one of the airline’s international flights.  

>> Read more trending news 

According to the BBC, a nearly 3-foot-long giant rabbit named Simon was traveling from London’s Heathrow airport to Chicago’s O'Hare airport in the cargo space of a United plane on April 19.

The rabbit was being shipped to a new owner in the U.S.

Simon’s breeder, Annette Edwards, from Worcestershire, England, said the rabbit had been seen by a veterinarian hours before the flight. 

“Simon had a vet’s checkup three hours before the flight and was fit as a fiddle,” Edwards told The Sun. “I’ve sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before.”

Edwards said the unidentified American buyer is upset.

“I haven’t got a clue who’s to blame, but it’s certainly very weird when Simon was so healthy,” Edwards told CNN.

Simon, a 10-month-old Continental Giant rabbit, was poised to grow to be the world’s largest rabbit, according to NBC News. The largest rabbit on record, as noted by the Guinness World Records, is Simon’s father, a 4-foot-4-inch and 50-pound animal named Darius.

“We were saddened to hear this news. The safety and well-being of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team,” the airline said in a statement. “We have been in contact with our customer and have offered assistance. We are reviewing this matter.”

Earlier this month, United Airlines made headlines when a passenger, David Dao, was forcibly removed from a flight after refusing to give up his seat for a United employee on a fully booked flight. United CEO Oscar Munoz said no one would be fired for the incident.

video-air-marshal-leaves-loaded-gun-in-bathroom

Air Marshal Leaves Loaded Gun in Bathroom During Delta Flight

United Airlines wants more time to answer questions about passenger dragging

The CEO of United Airlines has asked for more time to give U.S. senators a full explanation of why a passenger was forcibly dragged off a flight, prompting national outrage.

>>Original story: Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat on flight

Senators on the Commerce, Science and Transportation had given United until April 20 to respond to questions. 

“We are in the process of gathering the full set of facts about this incident and finalizing a thorough review of our policy,” United CEO Oscar Munoz wrote. “We look forward to sharing the full results of this ongoing review and the immediate, concrete actions we will take to better serve our customers with the committee.” 

>> Related: United Airlines passengers describe scene as man dragged off flight

Munoz requested an extension until April 27 to answer the senators, whose April 11 letter asked about the actions of the airline, security and the passenger, David Dao. 

The Chicago Department of Aviation also requested more time to answer questions about the incident. 

 >> Read more trending news

“We’re disappointed that neither United Airlines nor the Chicago Department of Aviation has yet provided substantive answers to the straightforward questions we asked about the forcible removal of a passenger on April 9, 2017,” senators on the committee said in a joint statement. “Getting answers for the public about what happened and what can be done to prevent such an incident from happening again is a priority for the members of our committee. We find any further delay in getting necessary answers unacceptable.”

>> Related: United Airlines changes policy after man dragged from plane

Married Man Avoiding Trip With Girlfriend Sends Hijack Hoax Email

Married Man Avoiding Trip With Girlfriend Sends Hijack Hoax Email

Must-see: SeaWorld's last baby killer whale born in Texas

SeaWorld has welcomed its last baby killer whale.

The company announced in a news release that 25-year-old orca Takara gave birth to a calf at 2:33 p.m. CT Wednesday at SeaWorld San Antonio in Texas. Its gender "will be confirmed at a later date," the park said.

“This is an exciting and emotional day for us at SeaWorld, and we are all so proud to share this new killer whale calf with the world after a year and a half of planning and observing and providing all the special care,” Chris Bellows, vice president of zoological operations, said in a statement. “Takara is a great mom and immediately began bonding with and caring for her new baby. Every day, she inspires SeaWorld’s guests to learn more about and do more to protect animals in the wild. She is a true ambassador.”

>> Read more trending news

Visitors soon will be able to see the calf with its mother "during select times," the park said.

Last year, SeaWorld said it would stop breeding killer whales and halt its orca shows by 2019 following protests by animal-rights groups, The Associated Press reported.

Read more here and here.

Travel guru Rick Steves gives $4M apartment complex to YWCA

Travel guide and Edmonds, Washington, native Rick Steves has given an apartment complex to the YWCA.

The 24-unit Lynnwood apartment complex is worth $4 million.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

He bought the complex in 2005 and since then has worked with the YWCA to place low-income single mothers in the building.

Steves said in his blog that one of his pet social causes has long been affordable housing.

“Twenty years ago, I devised a scheme where I could put my retirement savings not into a bank to get interest but into cheap apartments to house struggling neighbors,” he wrote. “Rather than collecting rent, my 'income' would be the joy of housing otherwise desperate people.”

Steves said his project evolved until he eventually owned the complex. His partners, the YWCA and the Rotary Club of Edmonds, then renovated the units with help from local government as well as the Gates Foundation.

Single mothers and their children then moved into Steves' complex. The building, Trinity Place, was at nearly full capacity from 2005 to 2016.

He gave the building this year to the YWCA. His next move was to inspire others who are fortunate to use his plan.

>> Read more trending news

“Working with the YWCA and the Rotary Club of Edmonds, we publicized this creative way of putting a fortunate person's retirement nest egg to work in a powerful way in hopes that others would be inspired to do the same in their communities,” Steves wrote.

Steves said his program is designed so the donor could eventually take back control of the land and retire on it by selling it or renting the apartments. He said he was committed to providing the apartments to the YWCA for 15 years, knowing he had security of the equity in the building if he ever needed it.

But his hope that he’d one day have the financial security to donate it entirely came true this year.

Steves’ Facebook post about the donation has been seen by 1.5 million people so far.

He laid out a timeline for the project and his thoughts about the “investment,” which can be read in his blog here.

United Airlines changes policy after man dragged from plane

United Airlines will no longer allow crew members to bump passengers already on board flights after facing heavy criticism for its removal of a Kentucky physician earlier this month.

>> Read more trending news

The policy change came after video surfaced on social media of officers with the Chicago Department of Aviation dragging Dr. David Dao off Flight 3411 after he declined to relinquish his seat to make room for a crew member.

Dao’s attorney said last week that the confrontation left Dao with a broken nose and a severe concussion. Two of his front teeth were knocked out and he was hospitalized for three days.

>> Related: United passenger suffered broken nose, teeth while being dragged from plane

The change was outlined in an internal email on April 14, The Associated Press reported. Crew members are required to make “must-ride bookings” at least an hour before the flight is scheduled to leave, according to the AP. The airline previously allowed crew members to make bookings until the time of departure.

A spokesperson for United confirmed the policy update to NPR, saying it “ensures situations like Flight 3411 never happen again.” 

"This is one of our initial steps in a review of our policies in order to deliver the best customer experience," the spokesperson told NPR.

>> Related: Delta will now pay passengers up to $9,950 to give up seats

United is not the only airline that has adjusted its policies in the wake of the dragging incident.

Delta Air Lines updated its financial incentive policy to offer up to $9,950 to passengers who volunteer to give up their seats on overbooked flights. American Airlines changed its conditions of carriage and said it would not “involuntarily remove a passenger who has already boarded,” The Washington Post reported.

Air Canada accused of bumping 10-year-old from overbooked flight

Air Canada is the latest airline coming under fire for bumping a passenger on an overbooked flight.

But this time, according to the Vancouver Sun, the passenger in question was 10 years old and the only member of his family barred from the trip.

>> Read more trending news

Brett Doyle had purchased tickets for him and his three family members months ago for a trip from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, to Costa Rica.

But when he tried to check in and select seats the day before their vacation this month, he was unable to select a set for his 10-year-old son. They spent hours on the phone with Air Canada to correct the issues, then drove to the airport, only to be told the flight was overbooked.

Doyle said he was told by an Air Canada agent that 34 tickets were sold for the 28-seat flight, but that it was unlikely that six passengers would miss a flight over spring break, according to The Vancouver Sun.

They then drove to Moncton to get another flight to make their connection to Costa Rica in Montreal, CBC reported.

That flight was canceled. They then drove to Halifax, staying overnight in a hotel, to be able to get to their final destination.

An airline spokesperson said that companies use a computer algorithm to look at patterns where customers book flights and don’t show up. Isabelle Arthur told The Vancouver Sun that even though Air Canada sells fewer seats than the prediction, there are still times that flights are overbooked and passengers must be moved to a different flight.

Arthur said that children under the age of 12 are usually seated with family, but there was a miscommunication in this case because the airline wasn’t directly dealing with the Doyle family.

Doyle said that Air Canada offered him a $2,500 voucher and may pay for the expenses incurred. The voucher expires in a year.

Click here to read more.

Airline pilot helps feed baby of woman traveling with four children

A photo of a pilot going above and beyond for a passenger is a breath of fresh air given recent airline horror stories.

>> Related: Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat on overbooked flight

A photo shared on Instagram shows a Finnair pilot feeding a baby while aboard a flight as a passenger.

>> Read more trending news

A member of the flight crew shared the photo on Instagram, where it quickly went viral, getting more than 1,000 likes.

According to the post, a mother was traveling with her four boys, two of which were babies.

“Naturally one cannot travel with two babies on one’s lap, so we had to solve the dilemma of missing lap, otherwise it would have been a no go for mom and the kids,” the post reads.

Capt. Tom Nystrom was on the flight as a passenger and happily stepped in.

“I have children on my own,” Nystrom told Inside Edition. “So it came naturally to me to help this customer with her babies.”

>> Related: United passenger says he was bumped for ‘higher priority’ passenger, threatened with handcuffs

>> Related: All passengers on United flight 3411 to receive compensation

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