United Testing Giving Out Miles Instead Of Vouchers For Customer Inconvenience

United Airlines used to compensate passengers with ‘Skykits’ or “Please Accept Our Apology” card when something went wrong, like a broken reading light or broken arm rest. In 2011 the airline imposed a limit of 6 customer service compensations every 6 months because the airline was so messed up apologizing was getting very expensive.

In 2015 United launched a new compensation program with staff given discretion on when to distribute the vouchers. The values at that time were,

  • Premium passengers and 1K and Global Services members: up to $125
  • Platinum and Gold elites: $50 to $100.
  • Other passengers: Up to $50.

United has tweaked the program several times, and is now testing giving out miles instead of travel vouchers.

American Airlines gives out miles via their iSolve tool, and has admonished flight attendants not to give out so much compensation. They’re also telling agents to be careful not to give out iSolve compensation to passengers on Canada itineraries who face delays, cancellations, or misconnects – because it fails to meet the requirements of Canada Air Passenger Protection Regulations.

American Airlines is obligated to comply with the Canadian APPR for flights to and from Canada, including itineraries that contain a Canada segment.

  • Refrain from using iSolve to compensate Canadian APPR customers
  • Direct customers to aa.com/CanadaPassengers for any compensation requests

A future enhancement in iSolve will prevent any compensation from being provided in iSolve for cancelled, delayed or misconnected flights within our control and a Canadian segment is included in the itinerary

Presumably United faces the same challenges with its compensation program – passengers may not know it but if they’re flying to or from Canada they’re entitled better treatment than if they’re flying within the U.S.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Well, if they gave out points equivalent to 1 Cent a point it might be good: for example, the $125 voucher mentioned at 1 cent a point would be 12,500 points. However, I am guessing they would try to save money on the points, so only give 10,000 points, which is about 20% less. This is probably a significant downgrade.

  2. What about me ?I’m a vip Silver elite @ United
    How dare they consider me just another passenger!!! I should be at near top of the priority list
    Where would they be without me?! 😉

  3. Somehow once last year I was given the choice of $200 or 10k points. What I found interesting is that they based the est. off 200bps

  4. Experienced this last week On flight from sfo to den. The business class seat I was in had a power outlet that didn’t work. I received 2,500 miles.

  5. @ Other Just Saying:

    “I am guessing they would try to save money ”

    United? Surely you jest…..

  6. I don’t want no stinkin’ points. I am trying to burn them. True, I try to earn many points but find them hard to redeem so I try to burn them on flights I don’t really want.

  7. @ Gary — “In 2011 the airline imposed a limit of 6 customer service compensations every 6 months because the airline was so messed up apologizing was getting very expensive.” You left the part out about certain customers ripping them off.

  8. My mother’s Table was not working appropriately on a flight from TLV in business. She was given 12,500 points and an apology in flight. I think she would have preferred the $125.

  9. @Rami. I use points all the time for international business class. Maybe your mother is right for her situation.

    I should comment as an aside, the $125 used to be a credit that had an expiration date. If it was cash, no brainier, I would go for the cash. However, I had trouble using the vouchers before they expired. Cheers, no criticism of your point intended. I am just thinking out loud.

    @Gary C. Your comment made me laugh. LOL.

  10. I dont fly internationally. Only domestic. The have had a number of interactions with customer service. Until the end of 2019 the customer service desk at the airport could provide compensation. They always offered dollars or points. Then at the beginning of 2020 they stopped the practice of customer service reps being allowed to provide compensation. Rather they directed me to the United customer concern website. There you fill out a form and generally they get back to you in 48 hrs with the canned apology, a compensation amount (travel voucher) and a disclaimer – by accepting this you give up all rights to further actions….
    I am a 1 K. I have received amounts between 75.00 and 250.00.

  11. @J in Texas

    Nothing personal, and I don’t think you are wrong for complaining and getting vouchers, but you are the type of person this is being aimed at. United would rather give you miles, rather than something that can be converted into “real money.”

  12. Tickets purchased with vouchers earn miles and premier qualification points. Tickets purchased with miles do neither, plus you end up at the bottom of the upgrade list (if eligible for an upgrade at all).

  13. Thank you legalalien; that makes sense. Miles are kind of my coupons. We don’t travel enough to even hope to ever attain any sort of status. The annual spend on my card lets us fly half price-ish once a year, and so has upgraded our vacations somewhat. We don’t have the kind of income level for more than that.

  14. @ANewsan, that’s why the choice of miles or vouchers was good for passengers: everyone could pick what worked best for them. Not anymore, I guess.

  15. I agree with Legalalien. Since I am Platinum and travel on many domestic flights for business, I prefer the vouchers to be able to purchase or gift my ticket for a family member. Also, being on the upgrade list is a perk that only works with a ticket that is purchased w cash/vouchers – not so w miles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *