I have not blogged about the United incident, but boy it seems everyone else has. To me, if you are going to look to one blog to see a great post from a United “fan boy” side I would look at Ricardo’s “PointsFitness.com” post on what United needs to learn about this mess. It is an excellent post and worth your time.
But you, my dear reader, are a Delta fan or maybe once were a Delta fan at least. Either way let’s look at why this situation just would never happen on a Delta jet or even a Delta connection jet more importantly step by step:
- Solicit over phone
- Solicit at check-in
- Solicit at gate
- Willing to go higher at gate
- Holds you at gate
- Willing to go higher on-board
Now let’s break these down one by one. Delta, when in a “bad” oversold situation will call you. I am working on a post as to if you should or should not take a phone offer, but for today understand that Delta will proactively reach out to get folks off a jet if the oversell is clearly going to be a major problem at the time of departure.
Then Delta will, even if they just think they are oversold, start asking for volunteers at the gate and often ask for more than they may need (in the latter case if you are not needed, they will simply ask you to board the aircraft with your original seat).
One of the biggest issues with the United situations, and is highlighted in Ricardo’s post linked above, is how ultra cheap United can be with bumps. If you are willing to go higher with a bump offer, at some point, folks will say OK for THAT much money I will take a later flight or one the next day. Delta, reluctantly, will go MUCH higher than $800. $1,000 or even $1,300 offers are not at all out of the ordinary and when they go that high someone will always say OK I will take it.
Then we have the fact that most times Delta will simply not let folks board until there is an open seat for them. I think this is the same for United but worth at least touching on.
Next, and I have had this happen to me, if folks are already onboard Delta will use the PA on the jet to keep raising the bump offer higher and higher until someone jumps up from their seat and takes the deal. That is what happened to me out of Minneapolis where I stuck to my offer to give up my seat for $800 in AMEX gift cards. The gate agent was firm at $700 so I boarded. A few moments later she came onboard and again offered $700 to anyone onboard. No one moved. She then turned to me in 2A and said OK $800 follow me. #Winning!
Lastly, we have the situation that it really was not a “United” flight. It was a “connection” flight. That is an airplane that is painted to look just like the mainline airline but that is the only thing it has in common with the major airline. It is run by another company, but for most folks they don’t know that. When it comes to Delta even many ground staff at smaller airports don’t work for Delta. They look like they do, but they don’t. They most times work for DGS or “Delta Global Services” a company that Delta owns but is NOT Delta itself. Confusing? Yes! Maybe they like it that way. The point is that DGS folks are often happy to go to a high bump amount to get you off an oversold jet as they want to get the jet out on-time more than save maybe $100 or so on fighting with folks to give up their seats even it it is a short 30 minute flight.
So there you are. Clearly this United bump situation is a total mess. Ultimately I think it could cost the CEO his job. If you have not noticed in China this is going down hard and I think long term this will cost the airline huge sums of money. Just rest assured you are unlikely EVER to see anything remotely like this ever play out this way on a Delta jet (and no, the lady dragged off a Delta jet last year does not count)! – René