How much would you take not to fly?
Delta asking travelers to bid for voluntary bumping in effort to speed boarding process
Samantha Bomkamp, AP Airlines Writer, On Thursday January 13, 2011, 11:11 pm EST
NEW YORK (AP) -- How much would it take for you not to fly?
Name your price. That's what Delta is telling passengers at airport kiosks now, in case a flight is overbooked. The Atlanta airline asks passengers to enter a bid -- how much they would like to be offered if they were bumped.
There's no minimum bid; the maximum varies. Passengers can change their minds at the gate if they decide they don't have time to wait for the next flight.
Delta says the move is part of its larger strategy to expand its technology offerings. And the bidding prevents the "crowded and chaotic scene" that often ensues at the gate when a flight is oversold, spokesman Paul Skrbec said.
Often five or six passengers volunteer at the gate to take a voucher when a flight is overbooked, he said. That slows the boarding process and often makes planes late leaving the gate. On-time performance is a key measure of airline reliability. Delta Air Lines Inc. finished last in that category among major airlines in the most recent report from the Department of Transportation.
The airline also bumped nearly twice as many passengers as any of its competitors last summer, according to the DOT. The DOT has only measured overbooked flights through September of last year. Delta accepted about 30,000 volunteers to take another flight in the July-to-September period. That's about one-tenth of one percent of its 26.7 million passengers in the period. It typically offers vouchers between $250 and $500 for travelers willing to wait it out at the airport, Skrbec said.
The airline knows as much as 24 hours ahead of time if a flight will be overbooked, as passengers begin to check in online. It started offering bids on its website in November. Delta has been offering the kiosk bids for a little over a month.