Would you give up your seat on an overbooked flight for USD 800? No? Then how about for USD 10,000?
For a sum like that, most people would seriously consider giving up their seat and catching a later flight – or at least, that’s the thinking at Delta Air Lines.
Delta is giving its airport employees permission to offer passengers close to USD 10,000 in compensation for giving up their seats on overbooked flights, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The airline has made the unprecedentedly generous offer in the wake of ghastly publicity surrounding an overbooked flight on rival United Airlines. United’s public relations nightmare involved a 69-year-old doctor who was abruptly hauled out of his seat and dragged down the aisle by security personnel after he refused to relinquish the seat voluntarily. See: Screaming doctor dragged off overbooked flight
Delta wants to avoid undergoing anything remotely like that – just as United wants to ensure nothing like it ever happens again.
Delta has reportedly authorised gate agents to offer up to USD 2000 (a big increase over the previous maximum of USD 800) to persuade passengers to give up their seats on overbooked flights. Supervisors will be able to offer up to USD 9950, more than seven times the previous limit of USD 1350.
Other airlines are considering similar steps. Perhaps the best policy if a Delta gate agent offers you USD 800 is to say: “I demand to see a supervisor!”
US airlines are required by law to pay compensation of up to USD 1350 per person if they bump passengers off flights against their will. Delta had the lowest rate of doing that last year and it’s reported to already offer more compensation to passengers giving up their seats than other competing airlines.
Written by Peter Needham