Delta giving vouchers, `skymiles' as apology for flight troubles in early April

Andrew Cummings
April 16, 2017

Airlines, eager to avoid a PR nightmare like what happened on United flight 3411, have quickly revised their passenger compensation policies, increasing the amount of money gate agents and supervisors are allowed to offer to passengers in the event of an overbooking. Agents are advised to contact managers if compensation above $2,000 is needed, the memo says.

The question followed controversy regarding airlines' overbooking practices in the wake of the United incident on 9 April.

The airline is changing policy as it deals with its own bad publicity. About 4,000 flights were canceled after severe storms disrupted operations at its Atlanta hub.

"If you think about this in terms of maximising cumulative benefit in the world, you want to get the people (off the plane) who are the most flexible and who will be inconvenienced the least", a professor from Harvard Business School who studies decision-making told PBS. "I am sorry for what you experienced".

Delta, which overbooks its flights, generates significantly better financial returns than its competitors who publicly say they do not overbook, says Bastian.

Delta is offering hundreds of thousands of customers $200 flight vouchers or 20,000 bonus frequent-flier miles as part of an apology for flight cancellations earlier this month.

The storm and ensuing cancellations are forecast to cost Delta roughly $125 million in revenue in the second quarter.

As the second-largest US airline, Delta runs about 6,000 flights a day during peak summer months.

The result is that gate attendants have a list of passengers to call up to confirm they will fly standby, thus saving the airline time and hassle in pleading for volunteers, negotiations and time. The champion of overbooking was Delta Air Lines, with about 130,000 of its passengers agreeing to give up their seats past year. In January, customers were marooned at airports when flights were grounded due to a computer system breakdown.

Delta spokesman Anthony Black declined to comment on the voucher and SkyMiles bonus gesture.

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