Delta Offered $10,000 To Flyers Willing To Give Up Seats On Oversold Flight

Delta Offered $10,000 To Flyers Willing To Give Up Seats On Oversold Flight

Confronted with an overbooked flight last week, Delta flight attendants channeled Vito Corleone and tried making boarded passengers an offer they couldn’t refuse: Give up your seat and receive the princely sum of $10,000 in cash, not flight credit.  

The shock of that number is compounded by the fact that this wasn’t a long-haul international flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg or LAX to Sydney.

We’re talking about a 90-minute hop from Grand Rapids to Minneapolis. 

The episode first gained public attention via a first-person account by Inc. tech columnist Jason Aten.

Flight attendants were looking for eight people to change flights to a later date.

 “If you have Apple Pay, you’ll even have the money right now,” Aten says one of them declared.

Another passenger, Todd McCrumb, told KTVB that Delta’s bid started at $5,000, a sum that likely would’ve generated headlines on its own if things had stopped there. He said the offer sounded so far-fetched he asked fellow passengers if the crew was joking. 

The juicy offer came as the airline industry is beset with cancellations and delays driven by a shortage of pilots and understaffing at the FAA. Seeking to minimize problems during the July 4 weekend, Delta this week offered customers the option to rebook without change fees or even fare differences.  

Apparently not wanting to show its cards to future travelers, Delta declined various media outlets’ requests for comment on the specific $10,000 offer.

Speaking more generally, a spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch:

“The ability to provide compensation on full flights empowers our employees’ efforts to care for customers and get aircraft out on time.” 

In 2017, CNBC reported that Delta had boosted the limit for enticements for “voluntary denied boardings.”

At that time, the standard limit became $2,000, but the real maximum – subject to various rules and authorizations from management – grew to $9,950. 

That Delta policy change came after a spectacular, reputation-bruising episode in which a seated United Airlines passenger, 69-year old Dr. David Dao, refused to relinquish his seat in favor of an airline employee who needed to fly. He was violently removed, with cell phone video capturing his bloody face and broken eyeglasses. According to his lawyers, Dao’s was concussed, had a broken nose and lost two teeth. 

Dao, a lung specialist, told USA Today he refused because he was about to oversee the opening of a clinic he founded to serve veterans, as his way of expressing gratitude to service members: The U.S. Navy plucked Dao from the ocean as he fled Communist Vietnam some 44 years earlier. 

At first, United’s CEO called Dao “disruptive and belligerent,” but apologized after public uproar. Dao sued and received an undisclosed settlement. We’re guessing it was far north of $10,000.  

Tyler Durden
Sat, 07/02/2022 – 12:00

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