Last week, United Airlines introduced a controversial new policy that requires passengers who need more than one seat-belt extender and who cannot put their seat’s armrests down when seated to purchase an extra seat. If no empty seat is available on the flight, the passenger must wait for the next flight or forgo his or her travel plans with United. While United is not the only airline to enforce such a policy, it has come under fire from the Association for Airline Passenger Rights (AAPR) for shelving its customer service standards in favor of profit and irresponsibly packing in passengers in coach too tightly.
Could the new rule do further damage to the flagging airline industry? A 2008 survey showed that airline customer satisfaction had reached its lowest level since 2001. Passengers cited problems with delayed and overbooked flights, lost baggage, and baggage-checking fees, to name only a few of the complaints. In that survey, United ranked as only the sixth-most satisfactory airline, well behind Southwest, American, Continental, Delta, and Northwest, respectively.
What do you think? Is United’s rule fair or fradulent?