The airline was forced to swap to a small plane due to an equipment issue

By Robyn Merrett
February 28, 2020 12:30 AM
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Credit: DANIEL SLIM/Getty Images

Nine passengers on board a United flight to Hawaii were each given a voucher worth $10,000 after the airline had to swap to a plane that had fewer business class seats.

United provided the substantial compensation to the airline guests who were willing to sit in a premium economy seat instead, CNN and Travel + Leisure reported.

Passengers were originally scheduled to reach their destination on a Boeing 777 aircraft, but instead were transported on a Boeing 767-300 for the 11-hour direct flight from Newark to Honolulu, according to the outlets. The new plane did not have enough business class seats to accommodate those who had booked seats.

In total, the aircraft change cost the airline $90,000 in compensation.

United did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

United spokeswoman Maddie King told CNN: “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.”

King explained that the volunteers agreed to sit in the premium plus cabin.

While the class doesn’t have beds like in first, premium plus offers passengers legroom, an amenity kit and premium plus meal options, Travel + Leisure reported.

United first began making drastic changes to their compensation policies after they made headlines in 2017 over the brutal removal of passenger David Dao, a 69-year-old doctor who was dragged off a Louisville-bound aircraft by Chicago police officers.

Following the incident, United outlined a list of changes, which included allowing employees to offer up to $10,000 to encourage passengers on overbooked flights to take a different trip.

“Our review shows that many things went wrong that day, but the headline is clear: our policies got in the way of our values and procedures interfered in doing what’s right,” United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said in a press release, according to USA Today‘s Courier-Journal.

Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation airlines are required to refund the difference in price if a passenger is forced to downgrade to a lower class.

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A traveler, who said he witnessed passengers happily taking United up on the offer, tweeted about the announcement.

“United offering 10 passengers $10,000 each for a downgrade from ‘business’ to ‘premium plus’ on a Newark to Honolulu flight today. What a time to be alive!” Joshua Browder wrote over a message that read “Honolulu flight from Newark is leaving from gate adjacent to mine. They just announced $10,000 voucher for each of 10 downgrade volunteers from business to premium plus (same flight) because of equipment swap. Wow!”