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United Airlines crew can no longer take seats from boarded passengers

April 17 (UPI) — United Airlines said it will no longer allow employees to take the seats of civilian passengers on full flights following an incident in which a man was forcibly dragged off an overbooked plane.

United Airlines made the announcement in a memo dated Friday and first published by TMZ. The airline said future crew members considered “must-ride” would be allocated seats at least an hour prior to departure, which would prevent crew members from being seated after passengers on a full flight already entered the airplane.

“This 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,” United Airlines wrote in the memo. “No ‘must ride’ crew member can displace a customer who has boarded an aircraft.”

“We issued an updated policy to make sure crews traveling on our aircraft are booked at least 60 minutes prior to departure,” United Airlines spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin wrote in an email on Sunday. “This is one of our initial steps in a review of our policies.”

United Airlines came under scrutiny last week after passenger David Dao sustained a broken nose and a concussion while being dragged off a flight after refusing give up his seat.

The incident occurred on the overbooked United Express Flight 3411 flying from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Ky., on April 9. United Airlines spokesman Charlie Hobart said the airline sought volunteers to exit the flight for compensation, but none stepped forward. United then chose four passengers to be bumped and all but one left without issue.

Dao’s lawyer Thomas Demetrio on Thursday said there will “probably” be a lawsuit against United Airlines over the incident.

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