Delta offering hefty new incentives to bumped passengers

On the heels of the United Airlines fiasco, Delta Airlines has announced new passenger incentive limits.

An internal memo gives Delta gate agents new authority to motivate passengers to change their flight arrangements due to an overbooking, The Hill reported.  Gate agents can now offer up to $2,000 to a passenger inconvenienced by an overbooked flight. Supervisors can offer up to $9,950.

The previous compensation limits for overbooked flights were $800 from gate agents and $1,350 from Delta supervisors.

The move may stem from the United Airlines incident between passenger David Dao and a security officer. Dao reportedly suffered multiple injuries, including a broken nose and a concussion, when the security officer dragged him off a United Airlines plane.  The incident has been widely condemned and discussed, especially since the seats United was trying to free were going to four employees who arrived just before departure.

With Dao mounting a lawsuit and United scrambling to put out out the fire, Delta’s updated incentive policy seems more than coincidental.

The Hill reported that United is refunding all passengers who were on the flight with Dao for the cost of their tickets.

Delta’s new compensation limit is much higher than what is required.  While the U.S. Department of Transportation “has not mandated the form or amount of compensation that airlines offer to volunteers,” it caps the amount paid to a passenger “bumped involuntarily” at $1,350.

Involuntary Bumping

DOT requires each airline to give all passengers who are bumped involuntarily a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides who gets on an oversold flight and who doesn’t. Those travelers who don’t get to fly are frequently entitled to denied boarding compensation in the form of a check or cash. The amount depends on the price of their ticket and the length of the delay:

  • If you are bumped involuntarily and the airline arranges substitute transportation that is scheduled to get you to your final destination (including later connections) within one hour of your original scheduled arrival time, there is no compensation.
  • If the airline arranges substitute transportation that is scheduled to arrive at your destination between one and two hours after your original arrival time (between one and four hours on international flights), the airline must pay you an amount equal to 200% of your one-way fare to your final destination that day, with a $675 maximum.
  • If the substitute transportation is scheduled to get you to your destination more than two hours later (four hours internationally), or if the airline does not make any substitute travel arrangements for you, the compensation doubles (400% of your one-way fare, $1350 maximum).
  • If your ticket does not show a fare (for example, a frequent-flyer award ticket or a ticket issued by a consolidator), your denied boarding compensation is based on the lowest cash, check or credit card payment charged for a ticket in the same class of service (e.g., coach, first class) on that flight.
  • You always get to keep your original ticket and use it on another flight. If you choose to make your own arrangements, you can request an “involuntary refund” for the ticket for the flight you were bumped from. The denied boarding compensation is essentially a payment for your inconvenience.
  • If you paid for optional services on your original flight (e.g., seat selection, checked baggage) and you did not receive those services on your substitute flight or were required to pay a second time, the airline that bumped you must refund those payments to you.

H/T: The Hill, AP

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