One airline's PR disaster is another's opportunity. Delta Airlines has reportedly increased how much agents can offer passengers to give up their seats on overbooked flights. According to a leaked memo obtained by the Associated Press on Friday, Delta will offer almost $10,000 to those willing to change flights.
This would, conceivably, avoid anything close to the incident last week, in which United Airlines passenger David Dao was beaten and bloodied by police when he was dragged an overbooked flight.
Now, the memo states, Delta gate agents can offer passengers a maximum of $2,000, replacing the previous $800 limit, and their supervisors can go as high as $9,950. This is up from $1,350.
Delta seems to be winning the air wars. While United was cleaning up their overbooking mess, a Forbes writer reported that she and her family negotiated with the airline to receive $11,000 in American Express gift cards to get bumped from their New York to California flight.
"If more volunteers are needed, solicit early and often,” said the memo, according to USA Today. “Be prepared to explain options to customers traveling to their final destinations.”
On the now infamous United flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, agents offered only $800 and failed to get enough volunteers to give up their seats to accommodate four employees. That's when they decided to bump passengers randomly, and chaos ensued. Dao's lawyer said his client suffered a concussion, a broken nose, and lost teeth, and he will likely file a lawsuit. Meanwhile, United stock plummeted last week. Adding a few thousand dollars to the offer for volunteers looks pretty cheap by comparison right about now.
Just because there's a new maximum allowed, don't expect that to be the norm on your next flight. Gate agents will usually begin with a much lower amount and wait until things get really desperate before they go any higher. However, if they resort to involuntary bumping, the U.S. Department of Transportation stated that airlines must compensate passengers with an amount equal to 200 percent of their one-way ticket cost ($675 max) for flights arriving one to two hours after their original time, and 400 percent ($1,350 max) for any arrival that's more than two hours later.
Still, how many of you are wondering how to make sure your next Delta flight is super over-booked?