Beyond UA3411: What Else May Cause Denied Boarding?

Image: screenshot of video by @JayseDavid

Videos of the passenger-dragging incident on United Airlines flight UA3411 have gone viral since April 10. The forcible removal of that passenger was a result of "overbooking" according to United.

Besides revenue management's planned overbooking and some operational considerations such as weight and balance, what else could result in unplanned overbooking and denied boarding? It's not uncommon that unplanned overbooking can be caused by inoperative seats/IFE that have become unsalable, therefore reducing seat inventory which in turn causes denied boarding.

Improving cabin amenity reliability and workability could minimize the possibility of unplanned overbooking and denied boarding, and associated customer compensations.

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US and UK Electronics Bans

Graphic: Daily Express UK

In March 2017, US and UK governments banned passengers from carrying large electronics onboard, for flying from a number of airports in 9 countries across North Africa and the Middle East to to US and UK, respectively.

These bans obviously have impact on passenger inflight entertainment and onboard experience. The best strategy for airlines to prepare for any unforeseeable, similar rules affecting any airports/countries, would be maximizing workability of IFE systems which provide an alternative for passengers who would otherwise rely on their own Portable Electronic Devices (PED) for entertainment onboard.

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Are Your Passenger Satisfaction Metrics Interpreted Correctly?

* For concept illustration only

In the wake of the recent passenger-removal incident, United Airlines has reportedly planned to tie employee incentives to customer satisfaction improvement. In fact, a few other airlines have already implemented similar types of incentive programs by linking executives' bonuses to customer satisfaction.

The trick is, do airlines interpret satisfaction metrics correctly?

Typical customer satisfaction metrics tend to behave like rollercoasters, where constant ups and downs are observed throughout the year. This is particularly true for those associated with aircraft cabin quality (workability and cleanliness). It is simply not a straightforward task to interpret cabin quality trends; taking numbers literally may lead to management being misinformed of cabin quality and passenger onboard experience, resulting in employee incentives not being commensurate with what's accomplished.

Accurate interpretation of customer satisfaction data not only can measure performance, but can also identify key drivers, which would lead to real cabin quality transformation opportunities. This, however, would require a multidisciplinary skill set.

We can help airlines motivate and incentivize employees, by accurately interpreting satisfaction metrics and effectively transforming cabin quality. Contact us.