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Delta passengers offered $10,000 each to get off overbooked flight: reports

Delta Airlines passengers said they were offered $10,000 each to voluntarily get off an overbooked flight this week — as the airline continued struggling with staffing shortages, cancellations and delays ahead of the busy Fourth of July weekend.

Jason Aten, a technology columnist at Inc. magazine, wrote that he was waiting for takeoff on board a Delta flight from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Minneapolis early Monday when a crew member announced over the plane’s PA system that the flight was “apparently oversold” and that the airline was looking for eight passengers to give up their seats in exchange for $10,000 each.

“If you have Apple Pay, you’ll even have the money right now,” Aten quoted the flight attendant as saying.

Anthony Black, a spokesperson for Delta Air Lines, would not comment to The Post Friday about the cash offers, or say how much money was paid to passengers, but he confirmed that airline staff have the authority to offer compensation.

Passenger Jason Aten tweeted that a flight attendant on a Delta flight from Grand Rapids to Minneapolis offered $10,000 to eight people.
Traveler Todd McCrumb confirmed Aten's account, but said he did not take the money.
Traveler Todd McCrumb confirmed Aten’s account, but said he did not take the money.

“Compensation is one of the many ways that our employees are empowered to manage oversold flights to take care of customers, but also make sure that the aircraft go out on time,” he said in a phone interview.

In April 2017, Delta Air Lines sent its employees an internal memo announcing that it was authorizing them to offer compensation of up to $9,950 to travelers who agree to give up their seats on overbooked flights.

The policy change came after a scandal involving Dr. David Dao, who was forcibly dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight to make room for a crew member. The traveler suffered a concussion and broken teeth, and the incident turned into a public relations nightmare for United.

Aten told Fortune magazine that he was in a group of eight people traveling together to Alaska via Minneapolis, but he and his companions did not come forward to claim the payoffs because they did not immediately know that the airline needed eight volunteers.

Passengers on board an oversold Delta Airlines flight said they were offered $10,000 each to give up their seats.
Passengers on board an oversold Delta Airlines flight said they were offered $10,000 each to give up their seats.
AFP via Getty Images

“Had we known it was eight, we would have gotten off,” he told the outlet. “By the time that was clear, four or five people had already left.”

Aten added that his wife was “not pleased” that they had missed out on the cash.

Todd McCrumb tweeted that he, too, was aboard the overbooked flight, and he confirmed Aten’s account concerning the airline’s generous offer.

“It’s a true story. I was on that flight!” he wrote. “Unfortunately, I could not take advance the offer, as I was flying with my wife who has very limited eyesight. She has to have me nearby when traveling.”

In a subsequent interview with the station KTVB, McCrumb, who was returning home to Boise, Idaho, explained that the airline initially offered $5,000, but later increased it to $10,000.

Delta pilots are seen picketing at Salt Lake City International Airport on Jun. 30, 2022, in Salt Lake City, demanding higher pay and more time off.
Delta pilots picketing at Salt Lake City International Airport on June 30, 2022, in Salt Lake City, demanding higher pay and more time off.
Dennis A. Clark

McCrumb said that amount sounded even more ridiculous and he was asking other passengers if they thought it was a joke.

It is unclear how many people ended up giving up their seats, but the flight ultimately took off 20 minutes late and landed at its destination at 7:16 a.m. Monday.

Earlier this week, Delta CEO Ed Bastian apologized for a wave of flight cancellations and delays that have caused chaos for air travelers as the industry was grappling with severe pilot shortages and sky-high fuel costs.

“If you’ve encountered delays and cancellations recently, I apologize,” Bastian said in a letter shared on his LinkedIn page. “We’ve spent years establishing Delta Air Lines as the industry leader in reliability, and though the majority of our flights continue to operate on time, this level of disruption and uncertainty is unacceptable.”

At the beginning of the week, Delta warned customers of a “potentially challenging” situation for Fourth of July travelers. The Atlanta-based airline took the unusual step of waiving rebooking fees from July 1 through July 4 so long as customers maintained the same departure and arrival point.

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