$2300 in Voucher Credit for Delta in Less than 2 Hours…

by Adam

In the wake of the Delta jet skidding off the runway at LGA last week, many flights into and out of LaGuardia were canceled and passengers were placed on alternate flights to NYC (JFK & EWR).

As a result, my flight the next day from Atlanta (ATL) to Newark was extremely oversold. However, Delta’s kiosk was only allowing me to bid as high as $250 for giving up my seat (at $250 I likely would not have given up the seat). The gate was a different story! It was utter chaos and the gate agent started taking volunteers almost immediately.  I was one of the first volunteers, but having lost my Platinum status just days earlier, I did not know if I’d actually get bumped.

There were very few volunteers (everyone wanted to get home and many had been at the airport since the night before) and so the voucher amount was steadily increasing. Delta started at $250, then it was $400, $500, $650, $700, all the way to $1,000.  I went back up to the gate agent to ensure that I would be given the final amount offered, even-though I had volunteered when it was only at $250. I was told that I would receive the highest amount offered. That’s exactly what happened, I was given a $1,000 voucher and placed on a flight to LGA only 1 hour later!

Delta Voucher

Off to the LGA gate and it was even more of a mess. This time they started at $800, then $1000, then $1300. I asked which flight I would be placed on and was told that it would be about 4 hours later, also to LGA. Four hours seems intense but for $1300 it was worth it to me.

In total, I arrived home six hours late, but received $2300 in vouchers within less than two hours. Totally worth it in my mind! My one-way ticket was $139. Hey, if Delta is going to continue to make it difficult to redeem miles, might as well take the cash money!

I’m hearing Delta started out the bidding at $1300 today at JFK for oversold flights to Ausitn (South by Southwest SXSW).

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Juno March 13, 2015 - 2:08 pm

That’s AWESOME! I can only dream of being bumped for vouchers that high! aaah.. imagine all the places you can go with that $2300!!!

Adam March 13, 2015 - 4:47 pm

@Juno – Right, I’m debating between a few European spots for this summer!

Kris March 13, 2015 - 2:23 pm

Revenue management gone wrong. At least for AUS flights, not much they could do to account for plane skidding off the runway.

Alvin DTW March 13, 2015 - 2:34 pm

ill just leave my response at “WOW!”

Adam March 13, 2015 - 4:49 pm

@Alvi DTW – I just spoke to three friends who were on one of the AUS flights today. They bumped themselves off of two flights and scored $2600!

Mark March 13, 2015 - 3:01 pm

That’s great! Hey, for $2300 plus one credit card, you could mileage run your way to platinum pretty easily. My last MR to Hong Kong in early February netted me >19k MQM for $500 ($594 canadian).

Adam March 13, 2015 - 4:49 pm

@Mark – Not a bad plan!

Flyer March 13, 2015 - 4:21 pm

One time I booked a hidden city fare. Then while checking in it asked me if I wanted to give up my seat for the leg I wasn’t going to take anyways. When I got to my destination, I waited around to pretend to want to board my flight and I endedup getting 500 credit plus hotel for 1 extra night stay.

Adam March 13, 2015 - 4:50 pm

@Flyer – Love it, that’s awesome!

Scott March 13, 2015 - 7:01 pm

Why would an airline payout $1300 in a voucher for a voluntary bump, when they could pay out 1/3 of that for an involuntary bump? Do they figure 2/3rd’s of the people wont redeem those vouchers?!

Jordan March 13, 2015 - 7:15 pm

Why was the gate agent willing to give you the final amount offered? Is this a regular practice? Any rules/laws that they need to do this?

Adam March 13, 2015 - 7:20 pm

@Jordan – I’m not sure if this is SOP as I normally don’t have the flexibility to give up my seat. DeltaPoints any idea??

PH March 14, 2015 - 12:01 pm

It is fairly commonly SOP for airlines, and the reason is that if they don’t give the earlier volunteers the same as what they give their last volunteer, they’re encouraging potential volunteers to wait and wait. When they’re trying to get a badly oversold flight out, this is bad behavior for them to encourage.

And to answer Scott, airlines often will give more in vouchers to get volunteers rather than do involuntary denied boarding because the latter are reported in industry-wide statistics and most airlines don’t want to look bad in that category. Also, involuntary denied boarding compensation is payable in cash (OK, usually a check, not literally cash) which has a 0% breakage rate. (Breakage is the term used for the expectation that a high percentage of vouchers, coupons, etc., will not ever be redeemed.)

Corbett Kroehler March 14, 2015 - 4:23 pm

Congratulations! Back in September, I was aboard an MD-88 which had TERRIBLE brakes. While we stopped pretty much in the same distance (in ATL, which has runways suitable for the A380), the aircraft shuddered so violently that I thought we’d lose a wing. I’m not kidding. I submitted a complaint and received a blithe, boilerplate response that Delta takes safety very seriously and hinted that I overreacted.

They deserve to pay through the nose for skimping on brake maintenance. I thought Southwest was the worst but it appears that they have a rival, at least in the MD-88/90 fleet from Delta.

I retained my copy of the response from corporate back in September and submitted a reply of my own, reopening that thread so that they could see that I was right. The fresh response was at least a little better. I fly an MD-90 tomorrow ATL-IND. If you see me on the news, you’ll know the reason before the NTSB does.


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