A United Airlines flight departs Newark, New Jersey to Hawaii. A Boeing 777 is scheduled to operate the flight. At the last moment, however, United needs to swap the Boeing 777 for another aircraft. As a result, another plane will operate the flight.
Swap a Boeing 777
It appears not only a less pleasant, but also a considerably smaller aircraft: a Boeing 767. One of the consequences is that fewer business seats are available on the flight.
This, in turn, poses a problem as there are now more passengers with a business class ticket than business class seats. As a result, 9 passengers need to be downgraded from business class to premium economy.
The difference between those service classes is fairly big. In particular the legroom in premium economy is considerably less than in business class. But also other business class benefits are lacking in premium economy.
United does not reveal whether there are 9 premium economy seats available on the flight. If that is not the case, some premium economy passengers should also be downgraded to economy.
Compensation for downgrade
United can find 9 business class passengers who agree with a downgrade to premium economy on the 11-hour flight to Hawaii. Reportedly, the compensation for the downgrade amounts to $10,000 (€9,200) in travel vouchers for each of the 9 downgraded passengers.
"Occasionally we have to change aircraft at the last minute and when that happens, we try to do the right thing and make the impact to customers as minimal as possible," United spokesperson Maddie King told CNN Travel. But she declines to confirm the compensation amount of $10,000 worth of travel vouchers per passenger.
Vouchers can expire or get lost
Approximately ⅓ of consumers who receive gift cards don’t use them because they let the cards expire, lose them or misplace them. Or they simply forget about them. This is pure profit for retailers. Most likely the same will be true for travel vouchers. Therefore, vouchers are for airlines the cheapest way to compensate passengers.
Hardly spending freedom
Passengers, however, enjoy hardly any spending freedom, for they can use travel vouchers only for flights and only on 1 carrier. They cannot use travel vouchers for any other purpose. Compensation in cash is considerably more worthwhile because passengers can use cash for anything.
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Tags: United Airlines, plane swap, downgrades, vouchers