Now Everybody Wants to Fly Delta

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While troubled United Airlines is taunted as “cheapskate”, Delta Airlines ups offers to almost US$10,000 to bumped customers.

  • Delta ups offers to almost US$10,000 to bumped customers
  • Taunted as “cheapskate”, United Airlines’ expensive lie and mistreatment
  • Know your rights: if an airline wants to bump you from a flight, it must deny you boarding

Airlines are quick in taking the Mickey out of competitors. Recently, AirAsia rode on the bad publicity received by Malindo Air over its interview process, where women apparently have to expose their chests, with a cheeky recruitment ad with the slogan “We won’t ask you to strip down”. Now Delta Airlines is mocking beleaguered United Airlines by offering almost US$10,000 to passengers who give up their seats.

United Airlines is still facing the backlash of condemnation after the violent removal of 69-year-old Dr David Dao from United Express Flight 3411. The doctor, who suffered multiple injuries and reportedly requires reconstructive surgery, has become a “poster child” for passenger mistreatment. Dao’s lawyer said his client will be suing United Airlines and the city of Chicago, whose officers pulled Dao out of his seat and dragged him off the Louisville-bound flight. The fiasco has become a scandal, with people around the world accusing the airline of racially profiling Dao and accusing the police of abuse of force. The police officers have been put on leave pending investigations.

There’s little doubt United is guilty of mistreatment and airlines are learning invaluable lessons at the expense of United the guilty party. For one, airlines can deny boarding to passengers if the flight is oversold but they must do so before passengers are allowed to board a flight, not after. Secondly, honesty is truly the best policy to avoid a public relations disaster. United had lied about Flight 3411 being overbooked – it bumped Dao and three other passengers to make room for their own crew. Learning its bitter and expensive lessons, United has changed its policy to require travelling employees to book a flight at least an hour before departure.

The airline has also been called “cheapskate”, further tarnishing its battered image. The situation could have been avoided if United had simply upped its offer to volunteers. When Dao declined the offer, there would surely have been other takers if the offer had been higher.

Now, Delta is rubbing salt into the wound with its announcement of offering customers almost US$10,000 in compensation to give up seats on overbooked flights. Last year, the airline successfully bumped more passengers than any other US airline, partly because it was generous enough to pay more than most of the other airlines.

That Delta moved in quickly to take advantage of the crisis is no surprise. Considering that it earned nearly US$4.4 billion in net profit last year, the airline is at the top of its game. And customers are not complaining. Care to be bumped, anyone?

Related report: Apr 14, United Airlines Passenger Suffered Concussion, Broken Nose