Photo: Home Alone
Airlines have always overbooked flights to hedge against the almost 10% of passengers who never make it to the gate, and most of us have been asked to hop on the next flight for some extra cash or flight voucher.It’s a pain, because most of us booked that specific flight for a reason – we have to get to our destination at a certain time – and waiting around for these last-minute negotiations with every passenger just delays our journey further.
Well, Delta is changing all that and revamping the passenger bump, so that fliers bid in a silent auction before they arrive at the departure gate, says the Wall Street Journal. Once they’ve named their price for staying behind, the airline picks the lowest bidders to be bumped to a later flight.
Here’s how it works:
Passengers who check in with Delta online before leaving for the airport or at kiosks before going through security can type in the dollar amount they would accept from the airline to be bumped from their flight. Delta can then accept the lowest bids, eliminating a lot of the uncertainty early.
This benefits passengers organizationally – it’s supposed to knock off about four minutes of boarding delays, which can actually have major implications for flight arrival times – and is obviously fantastic for Delta, because they can pick the lowest bid and passengers won’t know how low others are willing to go. All other airlines, as we know, broadcast their offers over loudspeakers at the gate.
In fact, it feels like the customers are definitely losing out. Experienced travellers will probably lose, because their novice counterparts will bid so low, perhaps unaware that airlines usually pay a minimum of $200 to bumped fliers. And the novices could get ripped off.
“The bidding methods could burn inexperienced travellers who offer a low bid,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution said, but “experienced travellers, meanwhile, may find themselves undercut in the effort to collect vouchers.”
Also the more passengers Delta can get to voluntarily delay themselves, the better: the Transportation Department wants to force airlines to pay involuntarily bumped fliers up to $1,300. Now, forced bumps get $800.
It seems like this is more a win for Delta than its customers though, because it “pits the consumer against the consumer, rather than the airline petitioning the passengers.”
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