Travel Related

Why the United “bump” incident would never happen on a Delta Air Lines flight – EVER!

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr
Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

current 1k max for delta bump vouchers but rules change all the time renespoints blog

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 “” 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.

Next, Delta will ask for folks at check-in either on or at the Kiosks and you can either take their on screen offer or put in your own offer up to $800.

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!

Delta Connection high rez photo RenesPoints

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


Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. Yep i saw on my newsfeed that some MP fliers were posting photos of their shredded Explorer cards and MP elite cards as well! Crazy.. I’d happily take the $800 and hotel lol. That would have paid for my ticket twice over.

  2. Odd that you could claim this would never happen at delta.

    2 factors not addressed. They had gone to 800 and nobody took up the offer. In your case, you happily obliged at this sum. We do not know the limits delta puts in place since there was a taker at 800.

    Proactive or not, if we are put into the same situation where they did not know they needed the seats until last minute. No amount of calling or asking for volunteers prior would have helped for any airline if nobody was willing to move in the end.

    I do agree that it would likely never happen again at any airline though. Not for reasons you posted above. But because this case will be studied in depth by all Airlines to learn from.

    • @Jack – If you look at interviews of passengers you would see that a higher offer of a bump voucher would have likely got folks off the jet and problem over. I think I have make my point clear why this would never happen on a Delta flight.

  3. Never say never,but I think if they had listened when he said he was a doctor and then asked if someone else would volunteer + offered more money, somebody would have taken it. Everybody on that plane wasn’t a doctor who had to be somewhere in the morning… If they’d offered a thousand dollars, there’s always somebody who wants a thousand dollars and thinks it’s a lot of money. Now their stock has lost a billion… A false economy!

  4. Rene,
    I agree with Lucky, the pax wasn’t bumped. He had already boarded, sat in his seat before the f/a walkups made themselves known. Now UA COC rule 21 – refuse to transport is the issue. Unless I missed something, there is nothing in rule 21 that says a seated pax has to give up their seat whether they are wearing a uniform or not. UA created a bad situation by having a cabin crew so far out of position. This is the whole problem right here – crew scheduling.

    How does DL determine involuntary bumps? Purchase date, check-in time, status or something else?

    • @Steve & @Lenny – You are missing the point as far as Delta goes. Most times they just keep upping the dump offer and at some points someone takes it. Either way, no way it would end up as the UA situation went down.

  5. Anyone involuntarily bumped must be compensated, per Department of Transportation regulations. If the new flight gets you to your destination within one to two hours of the originally scheduled arrival, the airline must pay 200% of the price of the one-way fare, up to a maximum of $675. If you’re delayed to the final destination by more than two hours within the U.S. (or four hours on international flights), the airline must fork over 400% of the one-way fare, maxing out at $1,350.

  6. Uh…this wasn’t an OVERSOLD flight. They were IDB’d because they needed crew seats. Plus, the pax were already boarded, so a lot of the DL policies you cite aren’t really relevant. #facts

    • @James – Re-Read the post. Even if on-board when Delta needs to get folks off they come onto the plane and keep offering more and more until folks get off. #FACTS as you say 😉

  7. I’m with Rene on this one. United simply needed to offer more money and probably not much more money. Get up to a 1K united voucher and you probably have some takers. Now, as for Delta, offering Amex gift cards is even better. I’d guess its not terribly common to have a plan where every passengers turns down $800 in cash.

    There are many problems you cannot solve with money. This was not one of them. IDB v. boarded and kicked off is irrelevant. United needed to quickly go through the onboard auction process until they found four takers. If their employees were empowered to do so their market cap would not have taken a nine figure hit.

  8. Uh, re-read my post. I didn’t say ALL the policies aren’t relevant…but MOST. Maybe I misread…are there other items you cited that apply in THIS circumstance?

    Solicit over phone – nope it was last minute
    Solicit at check-in – nope it was last minute
    Solicit at gate – nope it was last minute
    Willing to go higher at gate – nope they were already boarded
    Holds you at gate
    Willing to go higher on-board

    • @James H – Yes! Again, had this been a Delta flight, most, if not all, of these would have applied in THIS circumstance! Then again, Delta is a much better run airline than UA so there is that 😉

  9. Dotti cahill Reply

    I get that they needed crew seats- don’t they have xxtra jump seats or a seat in cockpit? They did not need to smash his face( now he has a lawsuit for physical damages) and he should have complied because no one was going to go anywhere !!!

  10. Tachyon_OGG-SBA-IAD Reply

    Yes, Delta did pay a family a lot this week, but Delta very much runs by a set of inflexible rules.

    I recently had them refuse to waive the $75 change fee to put me on an earlier flight– which I already knew had plenty of seats. Of course, myactual ticketed flight out of MSP was oversold… so they ended up paying people (not me. I needed to get where I was going.) $800 a pop to take a LATER flight when they could have accommodated me on the earlier flight. For free.

    When they hit their limit, though, it’s IDB City… just like American just like Untied.

    • @Tachyon – Never seen anyone beat up and dragged off a Delta flight like the UA one. Have you?

  11. Good points, but even with the Delta passenger you referenced, why not just empty the cabin first, which may also diffuse the situation as well?

  12. Still disagree with your points made @rene. Not going to pitch one airline against another but let’s not kid ourselves that DL has a limitless policy on $ offer to get someone out of their seat. Understand that you’ve had good experiences with getting bumped, as have I actually. I think it’s just premature to state this would never happen on any one airline based on facts posted above. Everyone had a price, UA didn’t get to that price and that’s on them. Would it, and could it happen to any other airline in a similar situation. You bet it could if an impasse has occurred and your top offer isn’t enough to incentivize someone to come off.

    Regardless, I hope that all Airlines, and especially law enforcement and would be passengers alike find some sort of silver lining and use this example to learn something from the incident.

  13. It could happen on Delta. I’ve seen an individual removed involuntarily and stating that he had to get to NY on a GSP-LGA flight after no one would accept $1,000. The United incident took place with the TSA Security, not with the United flight attendants. The answer is simple and obvious: airlines should be required to keep raising the offer until someone accepts it. STOP Involuntary bumps.

    • @Steve – The Delta CEO today in the Q1-17 earns call disagrees with you. I will take his opinion over yours!

  14. STACY JORDAN Reply

    @renee: I’ve been on a DL flight where it didn’t look oversold but as the other (previous) fight had no seats, it made my flight oversold. I was the first volunteer and the gate agent told me that I would receive whatever the highest compensation would be. They needed four other people and got the last person about 5 mins before the flight took over. We all got $700/piece plus food vouchers. Sometimes when DL ask you upon checkin to volunteer, it ends up not being oversold in the end. DL may limit the amount of $$ given, but as I mentioned to people yesterday in our discussion, most elites would take $800 as it will be “less” hard money used to keep their qualifications. It’s very hard to believe that no one needed that kind of $$ who was flying out of O’Hare.

    Actually did fly United for a three year period from DC because my ex-boyfriend lived there and I gave up my seat on a regular basis. One time they actually placed me in first class just for volunteering. It is very disheartening to see what happened play out and it is a case-study for the airlines. Maybe airlines will contact elites who regularly volunteer for bumps and offer them vouchers before anyone else.

  15. Does Delta always give AMEX cards instead of vouchers? In the United case, they only offered a $800 United voucher. A lot of people wouldn’t take a voucher, either due to the restrictions, or it’s worthless to them if they don’t have any plans to fly United before the expiration. There’s a much higher probability someone would have taken $500 if offered in the form of cash or AMEX gift card that I can use almost anywhere.

    • @D. Sue – No. Very few stations (ie airports) offer AMEX (and other) gift cards. I agree, as I would take $800 in AMEX cards over $1000 in Delta “dollars” any day as well.

  16. So true people at my hotel that I checked in for delta i gave delta a rate of 89 and those people came in with 1,000 vouchers and 1300. I was like wow I do see the delta crew everyday I work and they are super cool and nice with us and my staff. I tend to fly with them more often especially to europe. They they took very good care of all those people last week. More were going to atlanta from love field airport wish they would bump me for that price on a flight.

Write A Comment