Delta offers passengers almost $10,000 to switch flights: report

A passenger with a ticket on an oversold Delta flight said he and other passengers were offered $10,000 to give up their seats and travel at a later date, according to a report in Inc. magazine.

Inc. tech columnist Jason Aten said he and his family recently traveled on a Delta Air Lines flight to Minneapolis, and that passengers on the oversold flight were offered a whopping $10,000 in cash — not flight credit — to give up their seats. 

Delta sought eight volunteers, according to Aten’s account of the event. “If you have Apple Pay, you’ll even have the money right now,” the flight attendant said, according to Aten.

The incident occurred at a time when passengers are struggling with air delays and flight cancelations, with the July 4th weekend expected to be chaotic for airlines and travelers. Some 3.5 million people are expected to fly this holiday weekend, amid rising COVID-19 infections, staffing shortages and widespread flight delays

Aten did not volunteer to give up his seat, and Delta declined to comment on the incident. But the airline did confirm that in general, it offers passengers varying levels of compensation in exchange for giving up their seats on overbooked flights, all in an effort to get planes off the ground in a timely manner. 

“The ability to provide compensation on full flights empowers our employees’ efforts to care for customers and get aircraft out on time,” a Delta spokesperson said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. 

Maximum payout limit increased in 2017

Delta upped its compensation limit for passengers who switch flights back in 2017, according to a CNBC report

The policy change allowed the company’s customer service agents to offer passengers $9,950 in compensation, up from a maximum payout of $1,350. Although Aten said he was offered $10,000 to switch flights, the exact number was likely $9,950, per Delta’s policy. 

“To reinforce our commitment to our agents and their ability to care for our customers, we will be increasing the maximum allowable compensations limit for voluntary denied boardings (VDBs) systemwide,” Delta said in a 2017 staff memo obtained by CNBC. 

A voluntary denied boarding is when a customer volunteers to be bumped from a flight in exchange for compensation. 

To avoid headaches at the airport, experts urge travelers to fly direct when possible, avoid checking luggage, and to give themselves at least a day or two of a buffer if they are traveling for an important event in case their flight is canceled or delayed.

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