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United Airlines passenger gets $10,000 voucher to give up seat on overbooked flight

United Airlines passenger gets $10,000 voucher to give up seat on overbooked flight
United Airlines jets sit at gates at O'Hare International Airport in 2014 in Chicago. A passenger who said she was chosen to give up her seat had asked for cash in return. She settled for the $10,000 voucher. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

The smartphone video that went viral last year showing a United Airlines passenger being dragged out of an overbooked flight prompted several large airlines to vow to end or dramatically reduce the number of passengers denied a seat.

The nation's airlines have made good on that promise.

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The country's top airlines reported last year the lowest rate of passenger bumping dating to when the Bureau of Transportation Statistics began tracking the data in 1995. The rate dropped to 0.34 fliers bumped for every 10,000 passengers last year from 0.62 fliers bumped in 2016.

For its part, United demonstrated last week how far it will go to avoid another embarrassing incident involving an oversold flight.

United Airlines confirmed that it offered a passenger named Allison Preiss a $10,000 voucher toward future flights to give up her seat on an overbooked flight Thursday from Washington Dulles International Airport to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Preiss, a communications manager for the Center for American Progress, chronicled her plight via her Twitter account, noting that she was chosen to give up her seat because she paid the lowest fare on the plane.

After negotiations with Preiss, who played hardball and asked for cash to voluntarily give up her seat, United ended up offering her a $10,000 flight voucher, according to the airline and Preiss' Twitter posts.

Preiss told her Twitter followers that United also gave her two $10 food vouchers but refused to give her free access to the airline's VIP lounge.

She joked about using her food vouchers to "go nuts" at an airport Pizza Hut but later posted that decided to skip the pizza after all.

To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.

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