As the talk of United Airlines’ violent, authoritarian public relations disaster seems to be dying down, other airlines have taken efforts to distance themselves from the carrier’s problems. Now Delta just announced it is willing to do something United was not: Pay a ton of money to convince passengers of overbooked planes to disembark.
The Associated Press obtained an internal memo from Delta that gave its supervisors permission to offer almost $10,000 to incentivize travelers to give up their seats on overbooked flights, a large increase from its previous cap of $1,350. If gate agents are handling the overbooking instead of supervisors, they are now allowed to offer as much as $2,000 in compensation, up from $800—the amount United offered David Dao, the man who was forced off their flight.
As Daniel Gross argued after the United fiasco, “the economy has been too good for too long, and the airlines and the passengers have simply become too self-optimized and economically self-aware, for the usual incentives to work.”
For passengers who would lose a workday and vacationers who have already booked their vacation homes, he argued, $800 just wasn’t going to be worth it. But $10,000—or even half that? That could do it.
Of course, this won’t ultimately make a difference when it comes to the miserable experience of flying that is largely out of airlines’ control. But as long as airlines open their pockets rather than call the police, it becomes less likely we’ll see any more people being forcibly dragged out of their seats.