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D.C. woman gets $10,000 voucher from United after being bumped from flight

D.C. resident Allison Preiss was psyched when she got the last open seat on a United Airlines flight. She had gotten bumped because of the latest snowstorm on her way to Austin.

But she was even more excited when she received a $10,000 travel voucher from the airline after she was asked to give up her seat on an overbooked flight. Airlines often give travel vouchers for passengers who give up their seats on flights, although travel experts said this one was a bit on the higher side.

United confirmed in an email on Friday that “yes, we issued” Preiss “this voucher per our policy.”

For Preiss, her travels started Thursday when she was trying to go from Dulles International Airport to Austin for a bachelorette weekend. Her original flight from Reagan National Airport to Austin was canceled because of the winter snowstorm, as were thousands of other flights across the country, so she rebooked on the Dulles flight.

She wrote, “Nabbing the last open seat on the last flight:”

But when she got on the flight, she found out it was oversold.

She wrote on Twitter, “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 United at first offered her a $2,000 voucher and the next available seat on a flight. Preiss said she was asked to “sign a document stating that I volunteered my seat.” When she asked why she had to sign it because she said she had been “involuntarily bumped,” she said a United employee gave her a pamphlet and explained what she was entitled to under airline regulations and the federal law.

The offer: about $650, or four times the fare she had paid.

She decided she wanted cash. She figured she could use it at the bachelorette weekend as they “tend to be pretty pricey,” she wrote in an email.

But then the United agent offered her a travel voucher for a larger amount. At first the agent told her she could get a voucher worth $3,000 or $4,000. The United agent subsequently told Preiss she could offer her up to a $10,000 voucher.

“I never asked for a larger amount — the agent just escalated quickly,” Preiss said.

It seemed Preiss kept it all in perspective as she traveled, writing on Twitter.

“On the upside, I wasn’t physically dragged off the plane and my dog wasn’t killed on board, so I’ve got that going for me … which is nice,” she wrote in a Twitter message.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz says the recent death of a dog in an overhead bin on one of its flights should never have happened. (Video: Reuters)

United Airlines has recently come under sharp criticism after a German shepherd was incorrectly sent from Oregon to Japan, instead of Kansas City. And federal officials also investigated United after a 10-month-old French bulldog died earlier this month after the pet was stowed in an overhead bin on a flight from Houston to New York.

United suspends its pet shipping program after high-profile mishaps

And Preiss got an added bonus — United gave her two $10 meal vouchers. She wrote on Twitter, “I am going to go INSANE at Pizza Hut.”

But alas, she didn’t get access for a day to the airline lounge.

And where is Preiss going to go with her $10,000 travel voucher?

In an email, she wrote: “No firms plans yet, but I’m thinking about Hawaii. :)”