Delta Will Offer Up To $9,950 To Passengers On Overbooked Flights

In the aftermath of the United scandal, Delta Airlines will allow airline employees to offer up to $9,950 to encourage passengers to give up their seats on overbooked flights, the Associated Press reported on Friday. The change comes as rival United Airlines faces not only broad public backlash, but also a lawsuit stemming from a passenger’s forced removal from a sold-out flight last weekend.

Specifically, the AP said that it had obtained an internal Delta memo authorizing the airline’s gate agents to offer as much as $2,000 in compensation for overbooked flights, up from a previous high of $800, while Delta supervisors can now offer up to $9,950, up from a $1,350 maximum.

United has faced a week of mounting outrage over its treatment of a passenger who refused to give up his seat to airline personnel last weekend. A video showing the passenger, David Dao, being forced from of his seat and dragged off the plane by security officials went viral.

On Thursday, Dao’s attorney claimed his client, a 69-year-old doctor, suffered a concussion, broken nose and lost two teeth during the April 9 violence. Dao plans on suing United, with a hearing scheduled for Monday in Illinois. United is compensating all passengers on the flight for the price of their tickets.

While United CEO Oscar Munoz has twice apologized for the company's handling of the confrontation, many have claimed that the unpleasant situation could have been avoided had United simply kept ratching the offer to passengers to give up their seat on the overbooked flight until a clearing price was eventually discovered. Or simply said: an efficient market. 

It appears that Delta has learned from United's mistake, although now that the pricing threshold has been set, Delta may find it more complicated to find willing takers at what used to be the prevailing, far lower incentive prices.

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Meanwhile, moments ago CNBC reported that United itself has also issued an updated policy to make sure crews traveling on their airplanes receive their seat assignments at least 60 minutes prior to departure. “This ensures situations like Flight 3411 never happen again,” United said and added that the updated policy is one of its initial steps in a review of its policies.