Difference When Delta Oversells Flights Vs. United Airlines

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The big news the past week has been how a United Airlines Passenger Dragged Off Plane Due To Oversell however after the investigation has been going on, it seems that United did a poor job in handling how the flight was oversold from the beginning, and makes you question their oversell procedures in general.

Taking a look at Delta Air Lines, we also covered a story about How To Score $11,000 in Oversold Bump Vouchers, where a family earned that much in American Express gift cards thanks to Delta’s generous and fair compensation when it comes to oversells.

Airplane LAX

While most airlines offer airline vouchers to entice volunteers to take a later flight, Delta does something more innovative. In several of their key cities including New York (JFK, and LGA), Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, and Minneapolis, the airline offers customers gift cards from several merchants including American Express.

The amounts are also generous, with passengers reporting receiving between $800- $1350 in gift cards, Delta is willing to do what it takes to avoid involuntarily deny passengers boarding.

Well Delta already does a good job, I think there is an opportunity to expand their gift card program to all the cities they serve rather than their hubs. For United, perhaps it’s to offer gift cards to your volunteers so you don’t have to involuntary deny boarding to so many passengers.

This Wall Street Journal article explains:

Last year, Delta had the highest rate of people without seats for flights by far and United was No. 2. But they handled those customers differently, according to DOT data. Delta was the most generous airline in voluntary compensation. On Delta, 100 times as many customers voluntarily took vouchers as those who were involuntarily denied boarding. United had 17 times as many volunteers as customers involuntarily denied boarding: 62,895 volunteers and 3,765 forcibly bumped.

When airlines involuntarily bump passengers, they are required to compensate customers with cash of four times the one-way fare, up to $1,350. 

Bottom line: Even though Delta did more overbooking, United had three times as many customers involuntarily denied boarding as Delta.

When it comes to United, based on reports, the airline offers airline vouchers ranging from $200-$800, however in the instance of the flight last week an $800 United voucher didn’t entice anyone!

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Bottom Line:

If you are on an oversold flight you’d rather be on Delta as their passengers are more willing to volunteer to give up their seats thanks to the airline offering American Express gift cards with amounts as much as $1,350.

Have you had an oversold flight recently on Delta or United, feel free to comment below. 

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

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  1. The reason why delta airline is better, they are backed by American express *Mike drop* =p

  2. When I travel for business I have to use the travel credit for future company flights. The gift card is mine, guess which is more enticing to take a later flight?

  3. DL does not offer gift cards for VDB out of Atlanta, only delta dollars. You may want to edit your article.

  4. I fly into BTR from IAH monthly on United Express, and these RJ’s are almost always sold out and overbooked… They normally offer only $200 and can usually get you the same day. If not, it’s the same $200 plus they throw in a hotel.

    The last time I heard $800 was from LAS to IAH about a month ago. They needed 6 volunteers, they got about 20! LOL.

    Newark is usually pretty generous too…

    I would like to see the data for United vs. United Express… I have a feeling they oversell the express planes a bit more as their stats for no shows might be a little less forging.

  5. Bull crap.

    Delta did that to one family, but that was after FOUR days of delays with their total crap booking system having a meltdown. That’s right- four days of that. United’s getting grilled (and rightfully so) for an 8 hour delay caused by overbooking.

    Delta is -the worst- airline in the U.S.

  6. Um, why do you erroneously state that UA “oversold” seats, requiring the eviction of passengers.

    That’s just not true.

    **UA decided to bump 4 passengers to replace them with UA employees traveling to another job site, apparently an unlawful practice under common law and terms of carriage.

    You really should report facts correctly.

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