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Passengers Share The Most Outrageous Airline Compensation They've Ever Received

March 28, 2018
18 min read
Passengers Share The Most Outrageous Airline Compensation They've Ever Received
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After lucky traveler Allison Preiss received a $10,000 United voucher for being bumped from a flight last week, we thought we'd ask our TPG readers.

What's the most compensation you've received from an airline? Doesn't need to be vouchers, but anything at all. Why did you receive it and how'd you go about making it happen?

We seem to have some very lucky (or very good at negotiating) TPG Lounge members! Here are our favorite responses, some lightly edited for clarity.

The best was a $1,500 electronic travel certificate for a broken seat in business class. I paid $499 for the flight. I also got $1,000 for a VDBC [voluntary denied boarding compensation] for Newark to Las Vegas [on United.] The original offer was $400 which I was going to take. The agent came on and asked me if I was still willing to volunteer and I asked him what the offer was. I remembered it was $400, but I wanted to see if there was an increase. He told me $600 which I said yes to. I grabbed my things and vacated my exit seat. Outside at the gate there was this woman causing a scene screaming about how she must be on the flight. The agent boards her, and closes the door. He then tells me that she was a hot mess and did not want to deal with her. He told me he's giving me $1,000 because I was nice. When he told me he would rebook me in First, he tried, but the next flight was now full in first and economy. I suggested Newark - San Francisco - Las Vegas and he rebooked me immediately. I always try to negotiate a better seat. – Shawn P.
I recently got $1,000 for Newark to Las Vegas [on United]. Took a connection in Houston and arrived 4 hours late. Well worth it. The reassigned seat is as big a deal for me as the compensation. I won't take a bump unless I am able to at least get Premium Economy in the window or aisle. – Todd S.
$1k Travel Voucher from San Francisco to Newark + hotel and confirmed 1st class seat on the next flight out the following day. – Eddy C.
$850 volunteering my seat on Southwest flying from Las Vegas back to Ft. Lauderdale. – Matthew S.
$900 voucher plus hotel stay from American Airlines to take a next morning flight instead. Also received 2 free flights from AirTran for taking an hour later flight. Still think the voucher was better though. – Jason H.
Fiancée and I both got $2k when they had us take another flight to Johannesburg, worked out OK for that! – Travis P.
I was flying to Buenos Aires through Mexico City in the lowest of classes. Turns out it was the end of some holiday in Mexico so flight was way overbooked and no one was willing to be delayed. TWA (remember them?) rebooked me direct to **and from** BA in first class on a 747 (party bar and all) so that I arrived 5 hours earlier than scheduled. and gave me $1,000 flight credit — in 1992! – Shoshana S.
$800 from Delta for giving up my seat on a Sunday night flight from San Diego to Seattle. Crashed with some friends who were staying an extra night and flew back the next morning. Pretty good deal. – Michael F.
$1300+ each cash for me and 2 kiddos for involuntary bump on Southwest. I said I’d volunteer but didn’t have seats to give up so was considered involuntary. Plus food vouchers etc. Was more than happy for the delay for almost 4K cash! – Krys N.

$1,500 voucher from Delta for voluntary bump Atlanta to Tokyo.


? I also got €600 ($712) in EU exit compensation [European Union rule] for my Amsterdam - Washington flight that was canceled due to a maintenance issue. I got home about 8 hours later. It was a Delta flight on KLM metal. I filled out the compensation form online. Someone called me and told me that my check and gift card of my choice would be in the mail. – Toshiba G.

$1000 + hotel to be bumped on AA DFW-GRU. – Michael I.

Mine is not a lot, $600 to be exact. But United put me on a Delta flight that left half an hour later. All I did after receiving the voucher was walked over 2 gates and they were in the process of boarding. Easiest $600 ever! – Lee C.

From KLM 20 years ago. Voucher for 900 Guilders. When I used it, Northwest didn't convert and applied $900 instead. And KL gave me a business class seat home from AMS and hotel night for the bump. – David M.

$1,000 from Delta for being bumped out of the last Syracuse-JFK flight for the day (negotiated from an initial offer of $400). Luckily, there was an LGA flight that was 5 hours delayed and was able to catch it. I ended up arriving only half an hour later than scheduled. – Jez S.

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I once received 45,000 Skymiles when my in-flight entertainment screen didn’t work from Detroit to Amsterdam. – Justin M.

Flew out to NY State on a reward ticket over Christmas and got $1,000 on the way out for a bump, and got $900 and a hotel room on the way back. Also ran into another guy flying from Detroit to Wisconsin who took a bump on the first flight for $1,000, and was thinking about taking another bump the same day for another $1,000, but needed to get home for a vacation the next morning. – Corey N.

$1,300 to volunteer for a bump from a regional flight from O'Hare to Traverse City. The gate agent came on the plane and said we were going to sit there until someone volunteered, and essentially said "state your price." (This was ~2 years ago.) 1K Status got me to the top of the standby list on a flight 3 hours later, so essentially made $400/hr for waiting. – Matt R.

I got $1,200 from Delta, a hotel room, and $25 food voucher for an overnight bump then another $600 for a second 4-hour bump the next day. – Jaime W.

$1,200 from Alaska for being moved to a different flight 1 month before on a one way business class fare that was only $950 (for three). – Bryan Z.

Had a flight from Atlanta to Tucson and they were asking for volunteers. I had a paid First seat and needed to be in San Diego the next day. I offered to give up my seat for $1,000, First class on my flights to SD and a hotel for the night. Delta agreed and I got a suite at the Sheraton with my dinner paid for! – Brendon G.

TPG Lounge reader Brendon G. received a $1,000 voucher, F-class flight, and a suite at the Sheraton in compensation for giving up his seat.

$2,000 to get off a 1 hr flight from Detroit to Lexington. Flying Delta. – Tony M.

I got $700 for a redeye flight from SFO to ORD plus a hotel room and $30 in food vouchers because they had to switch out a plane and they needed about 10 people to get off. I volunteered at $400 but they had to keep going up to get enough people to get off so I got the higher amount also. So I took that money and bought tickets to Beijing. – Steve S.

Before the UAL / Continental Merger....UA gave me 100k miles for a TV screen not working on a flight. – Justin J.

Lufthansa Boston to Munich, about 10 years ago, 800 EUR cash. Went to gate in BOS, saw that it was a complete zoo, volunteered without them even asking. They paid hotel, cab, sightseeing, two $30 food vouchers and handed me the cash at the LH counter upon arrival in MUC. Paid for my vacation back then. – Peter P.

$6,000 / 2 people. Bump from LAX to Sydney for one day on Delta. They promised us a hotel but they were booked. Then they tried to give us lounge access, we were denied for that also. – Mika C.

Loved getting 800 euros in cash for agreeing to be bumped on a Lufthansa flight from Munich to Lisbon last spring. Cash is always nice

– Kevin S.

$400 Amex gift card from Delta for volunteering on an overbooked flight. Was guaranteed a seat on the next flight an hour later. – Dustin B.

$850 from United about 8 years ago. Because they oversold our flight to Cancun... and of course being discount price bookings we were the ones booted ... – Blair L.

A couple years ago, I (and my 1 year old lap son) volunteered to be bumped from an oversold United flight the Tuesday of Thanksgiving and got first class on a flight connecting through another city that actually got in earlier. I also got like a $300 voucher for it

? – Vanessa P.

Hotel night, shuttle transfers, breakfast, lunch and dinner credits amounting to $250 from Alaska. Flight had a 2-3 hour mechanical delay with unknown departure time. Gate agent saw our melting-down kiddo and set us up for the night and rebooked to next morning. Ended up that the flight left about 50 minutes later. – Brian K.

$650 Amex gift card and $100 food voucher from Delta. I had to wait 9 hrs for the next flight. I used my Square reader and paid myself using the card so I actually had it in cash. – Jack V.

One night's stay at the Hilton at London Heathrow, free dinner and breakfast, 20,000 miles for a cancelled flight. – Bill F.

I got 300 euros automatically deposited to my account for a delayed flight because the EU is actually awesome at holding airlines accountable. – Matt S.

Half the cost of our ticket refunded, which was about $1,600 for two of us, from Emirates after our plane had mechanical issue during takeoff at LAX. We couldn’t get on another flight for 2 days since they had to fly another A380 out for all of us. Since we do not live in LA, we were put up in a nice hotel with meals paid for during that time. Then given first class lounge access in Dubai since our layover was 6 hours instead of the original 2. – Kayla V.

Years ago, 3 of us were flying Seattle to Oakland on last flight out. Took voluntary bump for 3 RT tickets to anywhere Alaska flew, dinner and hotel plus first flight out in the AM but thru Portland. Took another voluntary bump for 3 more RT’s in Portland. Missed a day's work but got 2 extra trips each out of it. Score!! – Leslie Y.

We had a hard time getting back from Rome. Day 1 - flight cancelled due to mechanical failure. Put us up a hotel overnight with excellent food (comped). Day 2 - our new flight was also cancelled due to engine failure. Stayed overnight again. Day 3 - Finally got on a plane to the US, but delays due to plane issues caused us to miss our connecting flight out of Atlanta. Stayed in a hotel overnight with less awesome food. Day 4 - Finally headed back to California. Upgraded us to first class. I think it was Delta. This was in 2008. – Ann B.

$600 on United from Salt Lake to Houston. The flight was fully booked and they loaded everyone on the plane. However, they learned before closing the doors that the (small) plane had weight limitation. Gate agent came to the plane and asked for 3 volunteers for $600. – Khurrum K.

My brother and I got $1,800 in AA vouchers each for giving up our seats on a flight home from an Eagles game in KC back to Philadelphia. Ended up taking a flight 3 hours later, I'd say it was a good deal. – Jason H.

Two $800 vouchers for weight and balance issues in Rapid City, SD along with accommodations. Paid for our Alaska cruise flights! LOVE Delta!! – Judi D.

I just got 6,000 miles for WiFi not working from MSP-HNL on Delta. Twitter folk told me they could max out at 1,000, but the customer service rep I spoke to admitted that was peanuts. She offered 6,000 and I wasn’t going to push harder because I didn’t need the WiFi anyways. I learned from this group that I could ask for points in that situation, so I thought, “hey what the hell I’ll give it a try”. – Amy J.

$1, 000 and first class upgrade on the next flight for giving up seat between LAX to was only $69 one way to begin with ... – David H.

Got a $1,000 gift card last week from Delta for taking a later flight to DFW from LAX, and it only put me back about 2-3 hours from my original schedule. I did nothing special to earn it, other than showing up late to the gate. They were queuing up to board by class when I walked up, and the gate agent made another request for volunteers. I, along with another passenger, jumped out of the Sky Priority line and responded. That's the most I've received, and the first in over a year, for a voluntary bump. The bonus was that I got a first class seat on my replacement flight. – Brandon R.

10 years ago, but my best ever. 7 voluntary bumps in one day returning to IAD from SFO, each earning an unrestricted UAL domestic round trip. Also received 1st class when I finally got on board 24 hours later. I was a happy camper! – Tom A.

$1,350 each, for my husband and I, for giving up our seats on a DL flight from JFK to Rochester that had downgraded the aircraft. Plus a hotel night, car service to the hotel, and dinner and breakfast meal vouchers, since the next available flight was the next morning. – Christine C.

$700 voucher for bumping off my flight and leaving 2 hrs later on a non-stop instead of having a layover and as a bonus I arrived an hour earlier than my original flights. – Eric H.

I got about $,2400 in vouchers by volunteering to be bumped from multiple Delta flights on the same trip. – Ivan B.

Got involuntarily bumped from first class (upgrade) to economy [for an hour-long flight] with a party of 3 and we got $1,200 and additional $600 after a complaint online. Also, the purser personally treated us *better* than first class in coach and continued to serve us in glassware and extra airplane bottles for the road

? – Curtis I.

I’ve gotten $1,000 two times from Delta for volunteering. Last time, about 4 weeks ago, I got off after boarding and got directly on a flight to Atlanta that was boarding at the same time. I just thought it would be a regular Delta voucher but it was a link to a website where I could choose from like 10 different gift cards. Ended up getting $1,000 Amex card which is as good as cash to me. Wondering if all Delta vouchers are like that now? – Chris R.

$1,000 + upgrade from J to F both ways on UA's 747 "Friendship" between ORD and NRT, in the late 1990s. – Ramón K.

$500. I missed my flight the night before because UA screwed up the connection flight at ORD. So I spent it at a nice-ish hotel, got breakfast on them as it should be but had a 6 AM flight. They oversold the 6 AM and that's when I got the voucher. My original flight was a $67 MIA-ORD-DEN flight path. Worked for me! – Franco C.

So far I think it's about $400 from a voluntary bump on Delta several years ago. But, I'm expecting 1200 euros (minus the cost for the third party company who submitted the claim) for delayed flights on Air France between Chicago and Paris! Fingers crossed


? – Shana G.

$1400 apiece for myself and my husband in flight vouchers plus hotel for two nights, cab fare and money for food and toiletries as our bags went on a previous flight somehow. This was in Denver some years ago during a flight attendant or maybe a pilot strike. We ended up renting a Jeep and spent two days exploring the mountains. It was so much fun! – Cindy T.

Wichita to Munich, spring break ‘16, a family of 5 trying to get to a funeral and no volunteers as flight oversold on Delta Connection. I was last one through security. (A Delta) Redcoat paged me and begged me to switch. Wrote me a hand written check for $2,305, rebooked me through Kansas City. Salt Lake City - Paris - Munich in Delta One (Business Class), arrived 3 hours later than original ticket. – Jason C.

2,100 EUR for three passengers on AA from LHR to MIA- stuck on the tarmac for three hours because of load issues and a guy had a heart attack when we finally cleared for takeoff. The heart attack obviously wasn’t AA’s fault but the fact they still recognized the tarmac delay, offered compensation and seamlessly rebooked my connection made me a loyal customer. – Rikhil A.

$300 voucher and $200 live check reimbursing my meals/lodging for having rebooked a flight due to a snowstorm and that rebooked flight getting booked to the wrong day. I spent another night in paradise in Turks & Caicos on United. – Adrienne A.

My wife and I received $1000 in airline credit, $60 in meal vouchers and first class seating on our 2 additional flights. United was offering $300, we said no, 10 minutes later $400, no; right before boarding $500...+ first class...

? deal We gave up our seats at LAX, (after 15 hr flight) on our way home to CLE from Christmas in SYD. We used my Priority Pass to stay occupied for 10 hours until we flew LAX-SFO, SFO—CLE red eye. – Everett T.

Both flight vouchers for volunteering, I’ve gotten $900 from Delta for staying the night in Atlanta, and $1,000 from American to land in Palm Springs, CA 2.5 hours later. – Nate B.

Of course, your mileage may vary — and typically in this day and age of air travel, not all of us get so lucky. Here are some much more typical "best compensation" anecdotes on the opposite end of the spectrum.

A Southwest Airlines drink coupon – Grant G.

No luck. Southwest once gave me a drink voucher that expires in 2 days ON THE WAY OUT OF TOWN. And of course I don't come home for 4 days. Did not use it. – Chie K.

United was pretty bad... I was stuck in DFW going to LAX because of a light bulb in the airplane bathroom. Turns out, no one could fix it unless they drove mechanics from Houston. Flight was at 4pm, got delayed to 8, then midnight and then told everyone that they would cancel and we didn’t get to LAX until 11am the next day, no compensation because we lived in Dallas and since we were basic economy, no hotel provided. After that trouble, we got an email that United would give us $70 credit. That’s about it. – Matthew W.

"Sir, your flight is delayed some time. Here is some half sized water and on board snacks at the gate. Enjoy and thank you for flying Delta." – Sean F.

Last year, my husband — a cardiologist — saved the life of one of the passengers on board during the long flight to NZ - he got 500 Miles



? I cared more than him

? – Janine B.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto

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