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You’re Never Going to Get $10,000 for Your United Airlines Seat

  • Carriers have cut down on denied boardings in recent years.
  • When it does happen, passengers will usually settle for less.
Traveler make their way to gates at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016.
Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg
Updated on

The world was horrified to watch a bloodied United passenger dragged off a jet in Chicago earlier this month. While the assault by O’Hare security personnel had zero to do with an oversold flight, linkage to that longstanding policy of putting profit over the occasional ticket-holder was swift. It’s been under attack ever since.

On Thursday, United and the victimized passenger, Dr. David Dao, settled their dispute out of court. But the repercussions have been much wider, triggering modified overbooking policies and even elimination of the practice altogether at some carriers. Now the bid by airlines to mollify an outraged flying public has culminated with promised, eye-popping payments for your seat when a flight is oversold—up to $10,000 at United Continental Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc.