A Delta Airlines flight, number 159, which was bound for Seoul, Korea, was diverted back to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, from where it left, after a warning light alerted the crew that an external cargo door had come ajar in flight. The plane, a 747-400 was required to circle Lake Michigan for approximately one hour while it dumped 200,000 pounds of fuel, bringing the plane down to a safe landing weight.
Delta Airlines ensured all passengers that they would be adequately compensated for their inconvenience, released Wings Herald. The airline will be treating all passengers as if they were involuntarily bumped, giving them eligibility for a minimum compensation of $1350 in cash or vouchers and a mandatory new ticket to their destination.
This comes on the heels of increased scrutiny of the ways in which airlines compensate inconvenienced customers. In April, David Dao, a doctor on his way back to St. Louis, where he was actively treating patients, was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight in Chicago after refusing a paltry voucher as compensation for an involuntary bump. The doctor suffered broken teeth and a bloodied face when he was repeatedly struck and dragged off the parked aircraft by airport police officials.
This motivated a public outcry. Many of United’s competitors stepped up and publicly announced that they were expanding their own compensation system for involuntarily bumped passengers. A voluntary bump occurs when a passenger is asked if they would like to voluntarily give up their seat on a flight in exchange for a certain amount of compensation. These compensation packages are usually given in the form of vouchers for future flights and such things as paid-for rental cars and hotel rooms.
Airlines use sophisticated models to predict how many people to book on a given flight. This usually results in nominally overbooking flights because the airlines know that a certain number of people are very likely to not show up. Occasionally, this results in an overcrowded flight, and one or more passengers are required to give up their seat in order for the flight to take off. In this case, the airline will generally start a bidding process, where passengers are offered progressively more money to deplane until someone accepts the offer.
However, sometimes, the offer is not accepted. This results in an involuntary bump, a situation that can lead to forcibly removing passengers. Delta Airlines has recently announced that the maximum authorized amount given to voluntarily bumped passengers has been raised to nearly $10,000.