Delta Air Lines offered $10,000 to each passenger who volunteered to be bumped from an oversold flight out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Monday morning, according to various media reports.
The Inc. magazine columnist Jason Aten wrote that he was waiting at the gate for a flight to Minnesota when Delta announced it was looking for eight volunteers to get on a later flight. The carrier offered $10,000 to each of those willing to give up their seats, he said.
Aten told Fortune his group of eight didn’t put their hands up as they didn’t immediately know how many volunteers were needed.
“Had we known it was eight, we would have gotten off,” he told the media outlet. “By the time that was clear, four or five people had already left.”
At least one other passenger has corroborated Aten’s account. Todd McCrumb told KTVB 7 the offer rose to $10,000 from $5,000. McCrumb said he and his wife didn’t take up the offer, which was paid via or a Visa gift card, though he saw at least four others taking it up.
“The ability to provide compensation on full flights empowers our employees’ efforts to care for customers and get aircraft out on time,” a Delta spokesperson told Insider. The spokesperson did not confirm or deny the Monday flight was offering $10,000 in compensation payouts.
While a $10,000 payout is rare, Delta back in 2017 did increase the maximum amount it would pay to bump passengers from oversold flights to nearly $10,000 from $1,350, according to a CNBC report at the time citing a leaked bulletin to staff.
Delta’s unusually high compensation comes amid a messy summer travel season with flight delays and chaos across the industry as demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Issues faced by airlines include staff shortages — including pilots — and bad weather.
With the long Fourth of July weekend coming up, the industry is bracing for another round of disruptions. Over the Juneteenth and Father’s Day weekends, US airlines collectively canceled or delayed more than 35,000 flights.
On Tuesday, Delta said it would let passengers change their Fourth of July weekend flights free. Delta CEO Ed Bastian apologized to the airline’s SkyMiles members for recent flight delays and cancellations.
“We’ve spent years establishing Delta as the industry leader in reliability, and though the majority of our flights continue to operate on time, this level of disruption and uncertainty is unacceptable,” Bastian wrote in a Thursday email.
Delta has canceled 4% of its flights since Memorial Day weekend — considered the beginning of the summer travel season — Bloomberg reported, citing FlightAware data