According to One Mile at a Time, Delta is increasing the authority for gate agents and supervisors to pay out higher amounts of voluntary denied boarding compensation.
- Gate agents had been limited to $800, and supervisors could go higher up to $2000
- Now gate agents will be able to go up to $2000 on their own authority if they have to, and supervisors will be able to offer $9950 in any given extreme case.
Delta isn’t likely to pay out much more than they do today. Most of the compensation they pay is well below the maximum voluntary denied boarding payouts already. This just gives more authority to employees to solve problems in edge cases.
In many cases Delta solicits volunteers and asks how much each volunteer is willing to accept, so they’re able to pick lowest bids. In the famous case of United flight 3411, the airline offered $800 and a hotel night. It’s much more common for compensation to be $200 than $800.
Not only are involuntary denied boardings rare, even voluntary denied boardings are increasingly rare,
and it’s simply not that expensive in the context of overall airline operations. I’ve taken Department of Transportation data for the fourth quarter of 2016 and simplified it:
This is great public relations, it’s also great flexibility being granted to lower-level staffers than exists today to solve problems. Even if they doubled their costs here, which they won’t, it would be manageable. They get good press now, and potentially avoid bad press later.
This is both a good move for customers and a smart move for the airline. United will have a hard time not matching this, since Delta shows it’s reasonable to do it and everyone knows United usually blindly copies Delta anyway.