It was the re-accommodation seen around the world: United Airlines enlisted Chicago aviation security officers to physically remove a seated, paying customer from an April flight to Louisville.
A fellow passenger recorded the uncomfortable scene, which ended with an alleged concussion and a broken nose for Dr. David Dao. United experienced a quick drop in stock prices and goodwill.
Many critics were quick to remark that United didn’t do a good enough job of enticing passengers to agree to take a later flight. The Department of Transportation’s compensation requirements don’t apply to volunteers, which means that each airline is free to give whatever they choose. They might offer a $500 voucher, a check or even an airport meal stipend.
After the big United story, airlines are eager to avoid similar passenger-bumping controversies, and Delta is leading the charge with its policy changes.
Offering Up More Money
According to USA Today, a new internal memo at Delta gives agents more freedom to entice passengers on an overbooked flight to volunteer to get bumped to a later flight. This policy would reduce the amount of passengers involuntarily re-booked, keeping customer satisfaction high.
The memo reportedly told Delta employees, “If more volunteers are needed, solicit early and often.”
A spokesperson confirmed to CNNMoney that the new maximum compensation is a whopping $9,950. That’s what supervisors can authorize, and gate agents are also able to give more, up to $2,000. Keep in mind, though, that someone usually volunteers well before the compensation reaches the thousands.
Letting Passengers Stay Seated
According to CBS News, both United Airlines and American Airlines won’t remove someone who is already in his or her seat.
United confirmed that crew members who need a spot now must be booked at least an hour before takeoff. That was the problem that led to Dao being removed, and now the issue will be addressed before boarding begins.
CBS also reports that American Airlines recently added a policy that, in an over-booked situation, passengers would not be involuntarily re-booked once they have already boarded the plane.
If you are bumped from your flight, but you didn’t volunteer, the DOT’s “Fly Rights” apply. That means you’re legally entitled to a check up to $1,350 depending on the situation.