Reason Delta Is Offering $1600 to Any Passengers Who Leave Flight Explained

Sitting on a plane and suddenly getting bumped off your flight can ruin a trip you've been looking forward to for months. But would it feel as bad if you were offered $1,600 to do so?

Delta Air Lines is among the latest airlines to offer compensation to passengers who get bumped from their scheduled flight, according to recent viral videos shared on TikTok.

A spokesperson for Delta told Newsweek: "The ability to provide compensation for volunteers to take later flights when a flight is full empowers our employees' efforts to care for customers and to ensure on-time departures."

Delta worker helping passenger at LAX airport.
A Delta Air Lines worker helping a customer at Los Angeles International Airport in April 2020. Delta offered $1,600 to passengers who volunteered to "get off the flight" in a viral video shared on TikTok. David McNew/Getty Images

A viral video shared on July 3 by Natalie Bode (@nataliebode), a sports reporter in Atlanta, showed several passengers grabbing their belongings after "Delta just offered $1,600 per person to get off the flight..." according to a message overlaid on the video.

"Never seen people move so quickly out of an airplane..." Bode wrote in a caption shared with the post.


Never seen people move so quickly out of an airplane but I respect it

♬ original sound - Paris Hilton

Passengers at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport were offered $1,300 each to be bumped onto a flight leaving the following day. This was according to a viral clip shared a week earlier by Simone (@simonealdredge), an attorney on TikTok.

A voice in the clip, which showed people sitting at a boarding gate, is heard saying, "Passengers for Delta flight 5637 to Columbus, we're still looking for 3 volunteers [to fly the next day]. At this time, we're offering $1,300... 3 passengers for tomorrow..."


today at JFK … $1,300 to get bumped onto a flight the next day. Would you take it?!😳 #jfk #nyc #delta

♬ original sound - Simone

Why Are Passengers Bumped off Flights on Short Notice?

The practice of "bumping" passengers, also known as "denied boarding," happens when there are more passengers booked to fly than there are available seats, says the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"The business practice of bumping is not illegal," the DOT adds. "Airlines oversell their scheduled flights to a certain extent in order to compensate for 'no-shows.'"

The department says: "Most of the time, airlines correctly predict the 'no shows' and everything goes smoothly. But, sometimes, passengers are bumped as a result of oversales practices."

Delta had the highest number of passengers who were denied boarding on a voluntary basis (29,893) in the period between January and March this year. This was according to the DOT's latest Air Travel Consumer Report, published in June. The DOT study was based on data from "all U.S. airlines with at least half of one percent of total domestic scheduled-service passenger revenues plus any branded codeshare partners."

Delta was followed by American Airlines, Southwest, United and Spirit among the top five carriers with the most voluntary-denied boardings, according to the DOT survey.

Passengers disembarking plane.
A stock image of a flight attendant helping a passenger disembark on plane. Passengers were offered $1,300 to give up their seats on an oversold flight scheduled to depart from New York City in a viral video on TikTok. iStock / Getty Images Plus

How Much Money Can I Get for Being Bumped off a Flight?

The DOT says airlines must first ask customers to give up their seats voluntarily, in exchange for compensation, before bumping anyone off a flight involuntarily. Airlines may offer compensation in the form of money or vouchers.

"There is no limit to the amount of money or vouchers that the airline may offer, and passengers are free to negotiate with the airline," the DOT advises.

If the airline isn't able to source enough volunteers, the airline will "select passengers to give up their seats," otherwise known as "involuntary denied boarding."

The DOT says: "While it is legal for airlines to involuntarily bump passengers from an oversold flight when there are not enough volunteers, it is the airline's responsibility to determine its own fair boarding priorities."

An airline is required to compensate you after you're involuntarily bumped from an oversold flight in "certain situations," according to the department. They include the following, as outlined by the DOT:

  • You have a confirmed reservation,
  • You checked in to your flight on time,
  • You arrived at the departure gate on time, and
  • The airline cannot get you to your destination within one hour of your flight's original arrival time.

However, there are cases where you're not entitled to compensation, even if you were involuntarily bumped from the flight. These can include having to accommodate the plane's weight restrictions or switching the flight to a smaller aircraft for safety or operational reasons, explains the DOT.

"Most bumped passengers who experience short delays on flights will receive compensation equal to double the one-way price of the flight they were bumped from, but airlines may limit this amount to up to $775.

"Passengers experiencing longer delays on flights will receive payments of four times the one-way value of the flight they were bumped from, but airlines may limit this amount to up to $1,550," the DOT says.

A message overlaid on the viral video shared by Simone says that Delta first began the offer at $800 but no one "accepted it." It was later raised to $1,300.

A voice in the clip is heard saying: "$1,300 each. That's a lot of money, ladies and gentlemen. Look me in the eye and just let this $1,300 go by? Come on... you could do a lot of stuff with that... You could splurge..."

Another voice in the crowd is heard saying, "This guy needs to get a raise, he's good," as the video concludes with at least two volunteers apparently accepting the $1,300 offer.

Newsweek has contacted Simone and Natalie Bode for comment via TikTok. These videos have not been independently verified.

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