In light of the recent PR nightmare over at United (UA), it comes as no surprise that airlines are assessing their own policies to ensure that passengers who have already boarded the plane will not be forced to give up their seat. It should come as no surprise; United’s stock reacted strongly to the news – but not as strongly as the news outlets.
Delta’s (DL) responded on its own with their own policy changes. According to an internal memo obtained by the Associated Press, Delta has increased the amount gate agents can offer bumped passengers to $2,000 – up from $800. Supervisors can now offer up to $9,950, up from $1,350. But even so, supervisors will still need additional approval before handing over the money.
It’s worth noting that in 2016, Delta was most likely to oversell flights – which means that DL is most likely to bump passengers off a flight. According to data from the Department of Transportation, in 2016, Delta had 131,063 passengers who were denied boarding. Of those, they involuntarily bumped 1,238 passengers – a rate of 10 passengers bumped per 10,000. They came out as the second lowest among all US airlines (Hawaiian Airlines takes the cake on that one – although to be fair, Delta flies over 10 time more passengers per year) when it came to bumping passengers. In the same line, Delta had the most voluntary bumps – 129,825 – and paid over 40,000 more passengers than the next runner up, Southwest.
So pardon the clickbait title – Delta isn’t dishing out $10,000 to every customer that’s bumped off a flight. And let’s get real – if you’re on an oversold hopper flight from JFK-BOS, you’re probably not going to be walking away with $10k. I wouldn’t expect these payouts to be the norm, they’re most likely going to be offered in difficult situations. Take for example, if days-long inclement weather causes an extreme backup of delayed passengers – the lucky few who are on a flight that is operating regularly after the delay may be offered a good amount in compensation to give up their seat in order to accommodate passengers who may have been waiting days to catch their flight.
Either way, major props to Delta for the update in policy to hopefully sweet talk a few passengers off an oversold flight. This will hopefully help avoid issues like the recent United debacle.
Though I’m just *waiting* to be hear a guy at a Delta counter demand $10,000 to give up his seat on any old oversold because he heard that’s the going rate. 😉