Travel News

United Passenger with $163 Ticket Given $10,000 Voucher – But Why?

United miles
Written by Charlie

Last night, a United passenger with a $163 ticket walked away with a $10,000 voucher for being denied boarding! But, why was this amount given to her?

If you read other blogs, you most definitely have already read this story! But, because I found this interesting for a couple of reasons. Here are the details that were given about this situation.

United Passenger with $163 Ticket Given $10,000 Voucher

Allison Preiss was holding a ticket for a flight from Washington Dulles to Austin, Texas last night. Because of a broken seat (according to Preiss) on the fully sold flight, United Airlines needed someone to offer to bump. But, thanks to the storm in that part of the country, I would imagine many people just wanted to get out and no one volunteered to bump.

As a result, the gate agent announced that the passenger with the lowest fare would be denied boarding. Allison Preiss was that passenger. Her ticket cost about $163 (not counting the taxes and fees) so she was told she would be compensated for being involuntarily denied boarding.

According to news reports, she was offered a $2,000 voucher but she said she would rather have the cash. According to the rules about being involuntarily denied boarding, she was within her rights to get 4 times the ticket cost, so about $650. Before they gave her the check, they offered her the $10,000 voucher. And, she took it.

This $10,000 United voucher comes with the usual voucher limits (can only be used on United or United Express operated flights, must be used within a year, cannot be sold online, etc) but it is quite a haul!’

… But Why?

As I said, the rules about this is that she needed to be offered 4 times the amount of her ticket (one-way) in cash. This is the amount allowable for a delay of over 2 hours on a domestic ticket and is capped at $1,350 in cash total.

She indicated that she had wanted the cash when offered the $2,000 travel voucher. She was owed the $650 in cash – why did United give her a voucher that is $10,000 in United money? Does United really think that $650 cash is worth more than $10,000 of their travel “money?” Or did they want to make a nice sounding story to balance out how their publicity has been going lately?

$10,000 voucher

As nice as a $10,000 voucher is, it couldn’t even buy 2 business class tickets to Australia!

In the end, I would say to not expect a $10,000 voucher if this happens to you! For Allison, happy spending! Too bad it cannot be used for Star Alliance flights as those are definitely more enjoyable than United’s own premium cabins.

HT: NBC Washington

Featured image courtesy Markus Mainka / 

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • I wonder if she’ll get a 1099-MISC if she uses it… I was given two Alaska flight vouchers last year as part of a promotion, which I used on a flight to Atlanta. Was unpleasantly surprised to get a 1099 for $1200 last month… :-/

  • I’m sure it has to do with them not wanting to report Involuntary denied boarding vs. Denied voluntary boarding

  • Incredible!
    Can you help me with selecting a credit card that might help me book nights for the 2018 NYC Marathon ? I came across a past blog of yours about airline cards but not hotel cards.

    Thanks so much

    • Yes! I will have a post this week on the best cards for that, as well as some hotel suggestions! Are you running this year?

  • A 1099-Misc that could put you in the next higher tax bracket on Federal and State taxes suddenly doesnt make it worth it