Delta…I LOVE Getting Kicked off Your Flights

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We all know what happened to the passenger dragged off of United flight 3411 earlier this week so I won’t rehash it here. If you don’t know what I’m referencing just google ‘United scandal’ as you’ve been living under a rock–there’s already a wikipedia page about the event that will go down in Public Relations textbooks around the country.

In light of recent events, reader Julie Miller felt compelled to share her story getting “kicked off” an overbooked Delta flight.

With all of the recent press about a paying passenger being forcibly removed from a United flight, I decided to share my story of volunteering to give up my seat and the amazing deal I got in return from Delta. 

After a spring break trip to Rome and New York City, I was returning home to Cleveland, Ohio.  As I got to the departure gate at JFK International, the flight attendant announced an overbooked flight and asked for four to five volunteers for either a $400 Delta voucher or $400 preloaded American Express cards.  Seeing that it was a Saturday night, and my two teens and I didn’t need to be at school and work until Monday, I jumped up out of my seat, and headed toward the counter.  The three of us were the first to volunteer to give up our seats in exchange for the vouchers, free hotel, and transportation.

To my amazement, no other passengers volunteered.  About 15 minutes later, the flight attendant again asked for more volunteers and announced an increase in the voucher to $500, plus free overnight hotel, and transportation.  Again, no one volunteered. This same flight attendant in 15 minute increments asked for volunteers and raised the price again. This went on thru $600, $700, and even $800.  My kids and I were talking about the future trips we could take with this money or the purchases we would make with this money.  Finally, when the flight attendant announced a jump to $900, two other female passengers volunteered to give up their seats. 

So, to give up 3 seats on a roughly one hour flight from JFK to CLE, Delta gave us $900 for each seat in preloaded American Express cards to be used within 6 months. For those of you that are a little mathematically challenged, that’s $2,700 worth of merchandise or future travel!  We were also given a hotel voucher for a free room for the night, free transportation to and from the hotel, and 3 seats out on the next flight on Sunday morning.  The hotel also served free breakfast, so I didn’t have to shell out any additional money for food.  I was very happy with the deal Delta offered us and won’t hesitate to fly them again.

And that’s how it’s done folks.

I may rag on Delta for the constant devaluation of their frequent flyer miles, AKA SkyPesos, that make Argentina’s economy look healthy in comparison. But Julie’s experience is certainly an example of how an airline should handle a situation with too many people and not enough seats.

Thanks for sharing Julie!


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15 COMMENTS

  1. From what I can tell, this is *exactly* what United did, except nobody accepted their offers. We don’t know what Delta would have done if nobody voluntarily agreed to be bumped, so it seems a little strange to be praising them for this.

    • The difference is that Delta continued to raise their offer until enough passengers actually volunteered their seats. United reached a certain offer and instead of offering more, started an involuntary de-boarding process.

      There were many factors at play in the United situation, I’m sure some which I’m not aware of or don’t understand. But it seems obvious that offering more money as incentive to give up a seat instead of removing a passenger against his will is (one) better solution.

      • But surely you agree that Delta would not have gone up to infinity, correct? The difference was that once the offer price got to similar amounts (I believe $800 on United and $900 on Delta), the Delta passengers accepted it, but the United passengers did not.

        If you knew that Delta would just keep going up without limit until people agreed, then you have a valid point. But you don’t know that, and it is likely that $900 was close to their limit.

        My point is that United DID do what Delta did. Delta was just lucky that their passengers accepted it, and they didn’t have to forcibly remove them. Would they have forcibly removed them? We don’t know. But you seem to be praising them for raising their offer, while United did the same thing.

          • That I completely agree with. It’s just stupidity on their part to be dealing with this instead of paying a few hundred dollars more per passenger (you have to assume that once they got over $1000, they would have had some volunteers).

  2. If she volunteers at a $400 level how did she end up with $900 for each of them? Would you have taken the Amex cards or a Delta voucher?

    • To be fair to all passengers that were bumped. If someone else got $900, I’d want $900 too.

      I definitely would’ve taken the Amex cards as Julie did so as not to be limited to spending it on Delta.

  3. This post is in response to Dan’s question. When I volunteered to give up my three paid seats at the $400 level, I too assumed that is the deal that I would get. As the package progressed up to $500, $600, and $700 a seat, I sheepishly admit that I sent my 17-yr-old son up to the agent to ask if our 3 vouchers would be increased as well. The flight attendant admitted that we would get whatever the final price of the voucher was. I assume this is in fairness to all the volunteers. In addition, he told my son that if no one volunteered at the $900 level, the offer would increase to $1,300 each.

  4. I have been bumped many many many times – on American, and made money every time! But if a police officer tells me to do something, guess what? I’m going to do it. And please women, stop saying “oh my god!” over and over again, You’re not in a porno.

  5. A while ago I flew on Lufthansa from IAD to MUC, booked on UAL. I always leave room for an extra day.
    I got to the counter and saw that it was a complete zoo. YES, just what I like to see! I walked up, volunteered, spent the night in a Hilton, dinner and breakfast paid, cab paid, I skipped the free sightseeing trip. I arrived in MUC a day later, went to the Lufthansa counter, and they handed me 800 Euros cash. Nice way to start my vacation. No idea what problem those folks on United had, to not accept $ 800 for a $ 250 flight…

    • Any reason why you waited till you got to Munich to get the euros instead of dollars here. If you, I presume, live in the IAD area for your benefit and simplicity have them put you up at the Hilton rather than going back home. Please explain.

  6. I’ve also made out very well by giving up my seat, mostly back when Continental was still flying, but other lines as well. On a flight from Houston to Mexico City I bumped myself 3 times and ended up with almost $1,000 and a seat in first class on a flight a few hours later. Gotta be flexible.

  7. I think United did exactly what Delta did here – yes, they could have gone a couple hundred higher. I think the major difference in these 2 situations is that the Delta situation was on a Saturday night vs. a Sunday night for United. I would imagine a lot more people would be willing to take a cool $1000 to spend Saturday night in NYC vs. to not be at home on Sunday night and at work Monday morning…

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