United Airlines beats on earnings and sales

United Airlines could be bracing for impact from its PR ordeal.

Days after a passenger was dragged from a flight because United Airlines needed to make room for employees, the airline has changed its policy on transporting workers.

The Airline Passenger Protection Act, introduced by Republican Illinois state Representative Peter Breen, came after Dr. David Dao, 69, was pulled from a United flight at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to help make space for four crew members.

Of the national sample of 1,975 adults, 79% who said they'd recently heard of United chose its competitor. But even then, 44 percent said they'd rather fly with American Airlines. Preferences were more evenly split among those who hadn't heard about the airline lately, with 51% choosing American.

United's stock dropped as much as 6.3 percent Tuesday, before leveling off at a 2.7 percent loss.

The boost is part of the airline industry's response to the global outrage sparked by last week's violent removal of a customer from a United Airlines Chicago flight after he resisted being "bumped" by the carrier.

United Airlines said in an internal memo that the policy "is so the denied boarding process in an oversell situation may be implemented in a gate or lobby area and not on board the aircraft". Footage revealed him screaming before being knocked out as he was dragged along the aisle while fellow passengers looked on and protested.

United spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin told the AP on Sunday, April 16, that the change marks a first step in a review of company policies.

CEO Oscar Munoz has apologized publicly to Dao, whose lawyer on Thursday said he'd sustained a broken nose and concussion and would likely bring a lawsuit against United.

"A commercial airline that removes validly seated customers without serious cause breaches the sacred trust between passengers and their airlines", the bill says.

Smartphone video of Dao, a doctor, resulted in a PR disaster for United after he refused to give up his seat on the plane at O'Hare global airport in Chicago.

  • Arturo Norris