< PrevNext > David Dao, United Airlines passenger An Unwilling Catalyst By Michael B. Baker / December 14, 2017 / Contact Reporter Share The viral video of a bloodied David Dao being forcibly removed from a United Express flight in Chicago this spring reshaped the way all major U.S. carriers handled bumping passengers from flights. Dao, a 69-year-old Kentucky doctor, already had boarded the Louisville-bound aircraft when the carrier asked him to give up his seat to make way for crew who needed to report for work in another market. Dao refused and was injured when his face hit an armrest as security personnel pulled him off the plane, all of which was caught on video by passengers. Much of the initial incident's severity was out of United's control—the security personnel were not United employees, and the flight itself was operated by Republic Airline—but the carrier's immediate response was widely criticized as not being contrite, and that further fueled the media frenzy.United CEO Oscar Munoz later called the incident a turning point for the carrier, which enacted a litany of changes in the subsequent months. Among them: increasing the denied-boarding compensation cap to $10,000, no longer bumping passengers who already had boarded and reducing overbooking on flights that historically had few volunteers willing to give up their seats. The response went far beyond United, though. Delta increased its compensation maximums for bumped passengers, and American Airlines updated its policies to make sure passengers who already boarded would not have to give up seats. Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, decided to end overbooking altogether, something that was already on its to-do list but that moved to the front burner after the Dao incident.Airline bumping policies remained in the news cycle for several weeks following the Dao video, including several videos of incidents on other carriers, though the videos and their stories bore varying degrees of credibility. Even before the incident, bumping had been on the decline, having reached its lowest rate in the U.S. Department of Transportation's recorded history in 2016. That decline accelerated after the incident, and United reported that involuntary boarding incidents declined 92 percent year over year in the third quarter, including 28 days in which no passengers were involuntarily denied boarding. That had not happened on any single day prior to that quarter. Overall, major U.S. carriers decreased bumping by 78 percent year over year in the third quarter to 0.15 per 10,000 passengers, setting a new low, according to DOT records.Dao, who did get an undisclosed settlement from United, undoubtedly would rather simply have flown to Louisville than appear on this list. Willing or not, he shaped airline perception and policy for this year and years to come.