It is being claimed that the compensation that can be offered to a "bumped" passenger is capped by law. Not true. What the law says is what the *minimum* compensation has to be. There is no rule against the gate agent manager offering more and more $100 bills until they get enough volunteers. That UA didn't was purely a company decision, made by the gate agent manager, and probably guided by a poorly written corporate policy manual.
The gate agent manager offered "vouchers" "worth" $400 and then $800 to try to get volunteers. It is widely known by experienced travellers that airline vouchers are usually little more than a worthless joke. Vouchers expire, often in less than a year. They are good only for the fare, not for any taxes or "fees", which can be a significant part of the cost of a ticket. They have pages and pages of fine print of "blackouts", such that they are usually not good on in-demand flights or on in-demand days. When you try to fly with a voucher, often the flight is suddenly and mysteriously "full" or "not available". When when you do manage to buy a ticket with a voucher, and you do manage to make it to the gate, you are at the top of the list to get bumped AGAIN. I've received vouchers that I let have expire, because they were just too much of a pain in the ass to use. The first few vouchers I received were because I did volunteer, until I wised up to how shitty a deal a voucher is.
Vouchers are an even shittier deal for business travellers.
I would not have taken the $800 "voucher" to give up my seat either.
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