A United Airlines passenger who got bumped from her flight ended up with a $10,000 travel voucher for her troubles.
That’s what the carrier ultimately offered Allison Preiss on Thursday when she lost her seat on a full morning flight from Washington Dulles to Austin.
The issue, as it turned out, is that a broken seat on the plane apparently had to be taken out of service. That meant United now had one less seat to offer on the fully-booked flight.
Once it looked like she was about to be that passenger, Preiss – a communications director from Washington – took to Twitter with a long list of complaints and gripes.
"United is offering $1K in travel credit for an oversold flight. If nobody bites, they will kick off the lowest fare passenger by pulling them out of the boarding line. For a flight that THEY oversold. Unreal,” she said in an 8:19 a.m. ET tweet on Thursday that kicked off a Tweetstorm about the incident.
She continued in various Tweets:
"I AM THE LOWEST FARE PASSENGER."
"They are kicking me off this flight."
"They can’t board me on this plane because there is a broken seat."
“.@united IS THE WORST.”
Preiss told NBC Washington she didn’t want to miss the flight out of concern she would miss her friend's bachelorette weekend in Texas.
When there were no volunteers to be bumped, Preiss says United singled her out because – she claimed – she paid the lowest fare.
Preiss told NBC that United agents had offered her a $2,000 voucher, but she pressed for cash instead. Preiss said she thought the gate agent was about to issue a check – not a travel voucher – for $650 when another agent offered a $10,000 travel voucher and a spot on the next plane.
Preiss accepted, tweeting a photo of the voucher while saying “this is how badly United didn’t want to give me cash.”
"They really do not want to give me cash. They just offered me $10,000 in travel credit. TEN THOUSAND," she said in another tweet.
United confirmed the woman’s account to USA TODAY's Today in the Sky blog, adding: “We issued the voucher per our policy."
As you might expect, Preiss ultimately concluded that the episode turned out OK for her.
"Well, I can say it was the best flight delay ever,” she said to ABC News.
United raised its cap last April for what its employees could offer fliers on oversold flights to $10,000 per passenger. That, of course, came after the global public relations crisis faced by the airline after passenger David Dao was bloodied as he was dragged off United Express Flight 3411 to free up a seat on the full flight.
The move was one part of a 10-point plan for customer-service changes that United enacted in the wake of the incident.
Beyond that, United has struggled to stave bad press for a number of other incidents during the past year. Most recently, the airline faced scrutiny after a passenger’s dog died in the overhead luggage bin after a flight attendant reportedly insisted the flier put it there. And in March, United reversed course after an employee backlash over a plan to replace bonus payments with an extravagant-but-limited lottery-style reward scheme.