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Why the new $10,000 Delta bump vouchers are “mostly” a PR stunt & likely will never happen.

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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.

delt will never pay out 10000 bump voucher
You will likely NEVER see the number above!

What will cause more PR buzz than the Chase Sapphire Reserve card (that spent nothing on real advertising)? Well my fellow BoardingArea blogger, Ben, who apparently got a Delta employee to share some info off the employee only Delta Net, yesterday posted that Delta is jumping bump up to just shy of $10,000!

  • It will never happen – this was mostly a PR stunt.

Well, let’s just say it will likely never ever happen because it would take such an extreme situation to cause a Red Coat (customer service specialist) to go anywhere near that kind of compensation.What will have a much bigger impact is the fact that front line reps a.k.a. gate agents can now go to $2000 without needing to go to a Red Coat.

So why do I say this is “mostly” a stunt? In the wake of the United “we beat up our paying customers” mess this was perfect timing to show they are, as I posted the other day, never ever going to have what happened to United happen to Delta.

Here is why a $10,000 voucher is never going to happen. Let’s say a flight is oversold BAD. I mean like 10, 20 or 30 people bad because an aircraft was downgraded from a larger one to a smaller one with far fewer seats. Delta must get many paid customers off the flights. The will do all they can as quick as they can to avoid that many people needed to bump at the gate. Then what?

Delta AMEX gift cards from bump MSP RenesPoints blog
Yes please, thank you Delta!

I have taken a lot of bumps over the years. I have earned thousands and thousands of “Delta Dollars” that are only good for flights. I have also earned AMEX gift cards that spend just like any other credit card for anything you want. If a Delta gate agent were to offer me, or anyone else, $2000 in AMEX gift cards I would RUN to them and give up my seat no matter where I am going. And…

Can you imagine a gate agent coming on board a jet that had to have a few people offer to give up their seats before they could depart and the agent said we will give you, in the form of Delta Dollars, $3000 or $4000 or even $5000 to take another flight? Again, I think you would see an almost dangerous stampede of people wanting to rush off the flight for those kinds of numbers.

  • Again, 10k is not gonna happen.

But what this will do is accomplish what Delta ultimately wants and that is all but forever eliminated IDB or involuntary denied boarding situations where someone who really wants to fly and does not want to give up their paid seat is forced off the jet or blocked from boarding. As I have shown, and Delta knows this, at some level of real or airline money you will have enough folks saying for “that much” I will take another flight or simply cancel my trip.

  • This really is brilliant thinking by Delta!

Beyond this, and I think especially so when it comes to numbers over $2000, they will ONLY offer Delta Dollars not gift cards. Why? I have talked to Delta people who have told me that many times bump vouchers go unspent. I was not told a firm number but my guess is it is a big number. Thus, Delta can offer the compensation, get folks to give up their seats, and many times they have in the long run got folks to help out for net free to Delta. Again, just brilliant.

Worst case they are filling up a seat with a customer who, much like redeeming SkyMiles, is a seat that could have gone empty anyway so again no massive cost to the company. Fantastic (for Delta).

delta bumpertunity at kiosk yes please
Can we now type in $2,000?

So what does this mean in the end for you and me? First thing will be if the online offer screen (or Kiosk offer screen) will now allow manual bids higher than $800? If so, we should consider higher numbers. You may be saying: “Wait they take the lowest bids”. Sometimes but not always. Not just that, under many circumstances you can offer lower than your bid at the gate if that is your choice. Lastly, when it comes to smaller stations run by DGS or folks who look like Delta people but are really Delta Global Services subcontract workers, I expect they will be much more likely to go up to higher numbers. Exciting to say the very least!

What do you think of this change in bump compensation? Is it mostly a PR stunt by Delta or a real effort to make sure the United situation never ever happens to them! – 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. Michael Giardina Reply

    Clearly a PR stunt. As you said, this would necessitate such a huge situation that the 10k would be hush money in lieu of something more harsh. I just don’t see this as being an everyday affair where people are getting 10k for a bump. If remember most people who get bumped anyway are those with zero status, cheap seats, etc…. of course not always and it could be a First Class Delta One Transatlantic or Pacific or even a Galatic flight to the moon flight I suppose.

    • @Michael – LOL “Galatic flight to the moon flight I suppose.” LOL I love it! 😉

  2. I thought the limit was four times the ticket value or $1,365 or something. Is that correct? Also denied boarding compensation is inapplicable once a passenger boards.

  3. If I were offered $10K I’d counter offer: Delta 360 for life. I can dream can’t I?

  4. The only situation where I can think of where high 4 digit compensation would not be sufficient is business class to Shanghai or Hong Kong the last couple days before Chinese New Year. The ones that can afford it and likely paid cash fares at a medium to high bucket aren’t going to be swayed easily

    As you mentioned, in coach on a domestic flight, people would be fighting to get off the plane

  5. It may be a PR stunt but it’s a smart PR stunt. To the average person Delta looks so good compared to United with this announcement. Skypesos stink but this PR stunt shows exactly why Delta is winning.

  6. Santastico Reply

    Delta as always is the smart evil in the industry. They always take advantage when competitors get hurt. They follow the rules of the game but maybe you cannot say they follow fair play. Well, this is really a BS marketing. They know it is all about supply and demand and it will never get to a $10k unless they pick a “lucky” one to use that as a PR again and get free marketing since it will be all over the news “how nice Delta is”. In my personal experience the magic word on this game is “thousand”. The agents start with the $200, $400, $800 and they test the waters to see how many passengers are cheap enough to take the bait. However, when they say the word “thousand” that is when the game gets interesting and professional players get into. I saw this happen the other day on a DTW-SEA flight. I was connecting from NY and got to the gate and it looked like a zoo. It was the last flight of the day and they were offering $800 at the gate for 6 passengers to stay. Well, maybe 2 took the bait. Once we were all on board and seated the gate agent came and announced they need 4 passengers to volunteer to stay and offered $1,000 voucher + hotel + meals + flight next day. Wow!!!! I never seen so many people jump from their seats so quick at the same time. Apparently there was a family of 4 that was given preference and other passengers that probably stood up first were not happy. I was seated on first class and when the family walked by I heard the wife asking her husband why he volunteered and I heard him saying “well, this will pay for our Spring break trip to Mexico”. Thus, I doubt Delta will ever get passed $2,000. As soon as the magic word comes into play they will have more volunteers than they need.

  7. PR, no doubt about it. If this will prevent anything close to the monster United has now created Delta will be smiling all the way to the bank. Delta NEVER DOES ANYTHING that does not give the advantage to their “bottomline”. As a Diamond Medallion and Million Miler I sit on pins and needles waiting for what the next “Keep Climbing” enhancement to their Sky Miles and Award Program is going to be. And always to the customers advantage——–ha, ha , ha——-we all know what a joke that one is!

  8. Definitely a PR stunt to take advantage of United’s situation. It’s only smart marketing to stupid people who believe it. This tells you a lot about the mindset of Delta and how stupid they think we are. Same people who continually give us Skymiles “enhancements”. Unfortunately, they are probably right.

  9. @santistico, unless all the passengers in the gate area get together and decide en masses not to take any offer until delta reaches $10000. The person who tries to organize the group, and succeeds, will get more than $10000 worth of publicity as a PR stunt. Oh, what the mind can think of in this era of social media . . .

  10. @Rene I would call these new guidelines “goalposts” rather than “line markers.” They will only occur during perfect storms with prolonged flight disruptions, either weather-related or IT related.

    What Delta has done is freed up their employees to do the right thing if/when the next perfect storm occurs. For the rest of the instances, it will be, for the most part, business as usual.

    What’s more interesting is that this was a “leaked memo” to the Associated Press. Did Delta leak the memo?

    • @FLN – I too would like to know who leaked either memo since Delta states that anyone sharing Delta Net info can get fired!

  11. With numbers that high and using Amex gift cards will the tax man come sniffing around?

  12. Santastico Reply

    @Sarah: good idea in theory but almost impossible to happen in reality. Different people have different needs and thus different breaking points. By the time it gets to their comfort zone there will always be one that will take the money. It is human nature. Also, there will people that will never take even $10k because they just can’t. I can give you my own example. If I am traveling for business with my boss and we have a very important meeting we cannot miss. Delta offer $10k for me to stay and take another flight that will mean I will miss the meeting. What am I supposed to do? Tell my boss I will take the money and miss the meeting? That will probably mean I will lose my job. Don’t think it is worth it.

  13. Christopher Hart Reply

    So I am a diamond with Delta and happen to use a power wheelchair. My reality is that you all get bumped, I don’t even when I volunteer yet Delta offers 800+ bumps but when my chair got damaged 10+ times last year, Delta gave me a total of less than $450 COMBINED for my inconvenience. When Delta finally totaled my chair in November and then damaged the new chair on its maiden trip in March, I was offered $100 at DCA and in addition to not having repair parts ordered, I am still waiting for an official Delta apology.

    Happy to do a blog for you anytime

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