Airline gave US$10,000 to each of the 8 passengers who got off the overbooked flight

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2021 file photo, a passenger waits for a Delta Airlines flight at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.  Many airlines, including Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines, have resumed full beverage, alcohol and in-flight meal services since cutting refreshment offerings early on in the pandemic.  Alcohol, specifically, had possibly gotten the ax as a way to protect flight attendants and passengers alike — both from the spread of the COVID-19 virus and potential incidents with unruly flyers.  Cutting booze also helped airlines manage their bottom line during a historically low travel period.  Looking ahead, travelers can save money on in-flight beverages by finding old airline coupons with extended expiration dates, flying first class with elite status or taking advantage of airline credit card incidental credits.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Passenger waits for a Delta Airlines flight. Photo: AP/Charlie Riedel, File

  • Delta Air Lines was the company that had to resort to such a sum

  • If passengers had Apple Pay, they got the money on the spot

  • There was a kind of auction that started for US $ 5,000

The holiday rage has begun, and with it came what many have dubbed the “flight armageddon.” Nearly 3.5 million Americans are expected to arrive at airports over the Fourth of July weekend as cancellations mount and airlines struggle to keep up.

Delta Air Lines was one of the companies that was in trouble: it had to offer US$10,000 per person to almost a dozen passengers of a domestic flight to give up their seats. The apparently overbooked flight was on a short route from Michigan to Minnesota.

Jason Aten, a technology columnist for Inc magazine, says he boarded the plane with his family and was waiting for it to take off, when a flight attendant called him over the intercom to inform him that the crew was looking for eight volunteers.

The eight passengers would be compensated $10,000 in cash each, Aten wrote in an article earlier in the week. “If you have Apple Pay, you will get the money right now”, the stewardess told him.

A very difficult time for airlines

Delta, along with other airlines, has recently canceled a large number of flights due to staffing shortages. Holiday weekends in the US, including Memorial Day and June 16, have been marked by chaos.

The airline even offered its customers free flight changes for the Fourth of July weekend, days it called “potentially challenging” in a statement Tuesday. The rescheduling, which must be done before July 8, will not add fees or extra charges, as long as the trip is between the same origin and destination.

On Thursday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian apologized for the spate of cancellations and delays, while acknowledging unprecedented demand. “I know many of you may have experienced travel disruptions as we rebuild our operations and accommodate a record level of demand,” he wrote.

“If you have encountered delays and cancellations recently, I apologize. We’ve spent years establishing Delta as the industry leader in reliability, and while most of our flights continue to operate on time, this level of disruption and uncertainty is unacceptable. You choose to invest your time, resources and loyalty with Delta and rightfully expect a world-class experience. on every flight, and that includes the best reliability in the business,” added Bastian.

Another passenger on the flight Aten took, Todd McCrumb, took to social media to confirm the journalist’s experience. “It is a true story. I was on that flight!” he tweeted him. “Unfortunately, my wife has some health problems and she cannot travel alone. She couldn’t abandon her for any amount of money.”

Aten and his family could have taken home $80,000

McCrumb told Fortune magazine that the flight crew had made previous offers and that an agent made a Starting offer of $5,000 at the gate. When there were no takers, Delta increased its offer to $7,500 once boarding began and hit $10,000 when most passengers were on board.

Although some passengers got up and took the money immediately, Aten said some relented only after a second announcement of the $10,000 and an additional 20 minutes of waiting before takeoff.

While the offer was tempting, Aten’s family ultimately turned down what would have been $80,000.

“The reason we didn’t launch was because initially they did not say how many volunteers they needed. If we had known it was eight, we would have gotten off. By the time that became clear, four or five people had already left,” she said.

In 2017, Delta increased its maximum compensation from $1,350 to nearly $10,000 for passengers who walk off overbooked flights, according to a leaked staff bulletin published by CNBC. The policy change came in the wake of the United incident that same year, where passenger David Dao refused to give up his seat and ended up being violently dragged off the plane.

It’s weird on such a short flight

But even today, it’s rare for airlines to offer $10,000 for denied boarding, especially for such a short flight, and in cash instead of gift cards or travel vouchers.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agency reported that more than 2 million people passed through airport checkpoints in June, and flight traffic is already approaching pre-pandemic levels. Since Memorial Day, airlines have canceled more than 21,000 flights, twice as many as last year.

Currently, airfares cost, on average, 14% more, and in some markets they have quadrupled. And hotel rates are up 23% since 2021.

Lost luggage also increased, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT), which reported 21% more lost and mishandled bags than the previous year.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CBS News that his agency is closely watching airlines work to make them more trustworthy. Today, Friday, the airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) met to discuss their “shared commitment to minimizing disruption and providing safe and efficient travel for all travelers.”

The DOT is considering imposing financial consequences on airlines that post unrealistic flight schedules. The measure could force airlines to show they can support flights with adequate staffing before they are allowed to schedule.

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