Overbooked flights are becoming more and more commonplace as airlines look to maximize capacity and profits. And smart flyers who aren’t in a rush can capitalize on those crowds, sometimes in a big way.
Passengers on a Delta Air Lines flight from Boston to Rome certainly had the opportunity this week, when the carrier handed out up to $4,000 to passengers who surrendered their seats and agreed to take a later flight. The carrier also put them up in a hotel room for the night.
“Come on guys, $3,500, can somebody take one for the team?” an employee was caught saying in a TikTok video that has gone viral. “We’ll get you a hotel if you guys show up for us.”
@onlyinbos 13 passengers on an overbooked #Delta flight from #Boston to #Rome ♬ original sound – Only In Boston
Ultimately, the poster of the video reports, 10 passengers accepted between $2,000 and $4,000 in make-goods. While it’s not made clear on the video, those flyers weren’t handed cash when they got off the plane. The Delta Choice Gift Card Program lets them choose from a variety of options, ranging from flight vouchers to retailer gift cards to Visa gift cards, in some cases.
Airlines, when they realize a flight is oversold, will generally ask for volunteers to give up their seats, targeting passengers who aren’t on a tight schedule. That request is often accompanied by a token bonus of a couple hundred dollars in vouchers or gift cards. If people don’t take them up on that offer, though, the amounts start to climb—and apparently not many people in Boston were willing to put their vacations on hold, regardless of the incentives.
Most of the time, the offers are enough to convince enough people to surrender their seat. When that doesn’t happen, the airline will “involuntarily bump” passengers, forcing them to give up their seat. Per Department of Transportation rules, the carrier is then required to recompensate the passenger for 200% of the one-way cost of that flight for delays of less than two hours or 400% for delays that last longer.