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Delta made an interesting move after United’s #bumpgate incident (SEE: these posts and the memes) last Sunday by announcing that the airline was upping its compensation offered to passengers willing to give up their seat on a flight. And not just upping it…they are blowing the roof off of the industry standard.

In an internal memo to staff last Friday, Delta announced that gate agents can now offer up to $2,000 to passengers, while supervisors are authorized to offer up to $9,950 (!). The previous caps were $800 and $1,350, respectively. Quoted from their internal bulletin:

“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”

Talk about some serious money for being willing to take a later flight!!

Will Delta ever honestly pay out that much?

I’m betting the answer in no. In all honesty, I view this as more of a publicity stunt than anything, allowing the airline to capitalize on (yet another) United debacle. Delta had its own irregular operations woes recently, but these are nothing in comparison to the two public relations nightmares in which United is embroiled.

It is very unlikely in my opinion that Delta would ever have to pay out nearly ten grand to a single passenger willing to be bumped off a flight, for one simple reason: there will certainly be a passenger who is willing to take the money and run at a much lower amount. I sure would. Depending on the situation, I’m 99% sure I’d cave for anything between roughly $400 and $1,000.

The question in my mind is, should Delta happen to end up in some crazy situation in which no one wants to take even $2,000 to be bumped, would the gate agent decided to still choose the “involuntarily denied boarding” option? It would honestly be cheaper, since DOT regulations cap the required compensation at $1,350. I hope they’ll stick to their new limits.

The limits are still a great move

What the new limits do allow is plenty of discretion by gate agents to offer substantial compensation in VDB cases. More than enough to prevent an incident like last Sunday’s. I don’t think Delta will ever have to worry about involuntarily denying boarding to any passengers moving forward. I’ll be interested to see their future numbers.

Kudos to Delta for this change. I hope the other airlines follow suit. I’m certain none of them want to be in a situation as horrific as the one we just witnessed.

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