Delta is letting employees offer customers almost $10,000 in compensation to give up seats on overbooked flights, hoping to avoid an uproar like the one that erupted at United after a passenger was dragged off a jet. In an internal memo obtained Friday by the AP, Delta Air Lines said gate agents can offer up to $2,000, up from a previous maximum of $800, and supervisors can offer up to $9,950, up from $1,350. United is reviewing its own policies, including incentives for customers, and will announce any actions by April 30, a spokesperson said. The airline would not disclose its current compensation limit. Other airlines did not immediately comment on whether they would raise their ceiling.
Ben Schlappig, a travel blogger who first wrote about the Delta compensation increase, said it shows Delta is trying to reduce forced bumping. He said he couldn't imagine many situations in which people wouldn't jump at nearly $10,000. Delta no doubt hopes that gate agents and their supervisors won't need to make maximum offers, and the financial cost to the airline is likely to be limited. If Delta paid $9,950 to every person it bumped involuntarily last year, that would total $12 million. Delta earned nearly $4.4 billion. After the incident last Sunday, critics questioned why United didn't offer more when no passengers accepted the airline's $800 offer for volunteers to give up their seats. "If you offer enough money, even the guy going to a funeral will sell his seat," said a retired United pilot. (Read more Delta Air Lines stories.)