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United Airlines

Flyer Gets $10,000 Travel Credit From United

Flyer Gets $10,000 Travel Credit From United
Joe Cortez

After a passenger was involuntarily denied boarding when her United Airlines flight was oversold, gate agents made an extraordinary effort to ensure she was compensated for the inconvenience. Instead of giving her cash in exchange for her seat, the flyer said she was given $10,000 in travel credit for use aboard the carrier.

When an airline offers $1,000 in travel credits to encourage flyers to give up their seat on an oversold flight, often at least one flyer will be glad to take the credit. But what happens if nobody takes it and the carrier is forced to involuntarily deny a passenger from boarding? One United Airlines flyer learned that bounty can go up 10 times as high.

Allison Preiss, a managing director of communications at the Center for American Progress, was in the center of this exact situation. On Thursday, March 22, she was flying aboard United from Washington, D.C. to Austin, Texas, when United announced her flight was oversold. In order to board passengers, she claims gate agents offered a $1,000 travel credit if someone gave up their seat.

Nobody decided to take the offer, forcing United employees to deny boarding to the lowest fare passenger. As fate would have it, Preiss was classified as the “lowest fare passenger” on the flight. In her story, she claims she couldn’t board because there was a broken seat on the flight.

Under federal law, flyers are entitled to up to $1,350 in compensation if they are involuntarily denied boarding. According to Preiss, gate agents allegedly asked her to sign a document stating she gave up her seat voluntarily. When she refused, Preiss says the gate agents offered her a $10,000 credit aboard United instead of paying her cash.

She accepted the credit offer and posted a picture of the voucher online. She also commented that she received two $10 meal vouchers (which went unused), but was not offered lounge access for her inconvenience. Priess told another Twitter user that she did not have to use the voucher all at once and considered using the voucher on a first-class flight to Australia.

A spokesperson for United confirmed to FlyerTalk: “The customer received a travel voucher per our company policy,” but did not offer details on the compensation. After the United Flight 3411 incident, the airline increased their customer compensation incentives up to $10,000, but did not specify which situations may be covered.

View Comments (3)


  1. mvoight

    March 26, 2018 at 6:17 am

    She was blaming UA for overselling the flight, but then said she could’t board due to a broken seat.
    I don’t know why they offered $10K. I would guess she could have been bought for $8K or less
    Someone else would have done it for 5K, so why did they not offer more than $1K to others

  2. cestmoi123

    March 26, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Sounds like they went with the involuntary denied boarding once they couldn’t get any volunteers at $1k in credit. Once they had done so, and removed her from the plane, then they were obliged to pay her in cash. If they didn’t want to pay her cash, then their only option was offering a credit $ value she would accept.

  3. seigex

    March 26, 2018 at 9:08 pm

    Just so happens the Director of Communications for the Center for American Progress who was tweeting about it. Hmmm, yeah totally would have happened if it were anyone else.

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