Delta Rebooks Passengers On Lyft When There’s No Airline Seats Available

A Delta Air Lines passenger reported that they made it to Detroit on Friday, but couldn’t get the last mile home to Cincinnati. There were strong thunderstorms in the area in the evening and that was wreaking havoc with flights. Delta, though, didn’t blame weather and say there was nothing they can do. Instead they rebooked passengers on short-distance final segments using their partner Lyft.

Delta booked me CVG -DTW in a Lyft!
by u/CandorAndPillory in delta

Detroit – Cincinnati is a 229 mile flight. Driving can be almost as direct at 250 miles down I-75, which Google estimates at 3 hours 39 minutes without traffic.

At a 7 to 8 hour roundtrip (the driver has to return home, and probably won’t have a fare), they were reportedly only making around $200 from Lyft which amounts to $25 per hour including having to cover gas and vehicle depreciation. That’s a long way to go in a 2018 Dodge Caravan.

While we don’t know what sort of financial arrangement Delta has, and we can assume they’re getting a discount versus retail as their six year old partnership has evolved, a one way car rental would probably have been cheaper. Traditionally an airline might reimburse a car rental, though not when cancellations are due to weather. In that case you’re normally best off having booked with a credit card offering trip delay coverage. Still, a rental car probably would have been cheaper than a Lyft.

I’ve done the more than 200 mile trip via Uber between the Austin airport and DFW when a flight was cancelled. Fortunately I wasn’t paying out of pocket. It was a business trip, and it cost over $400 one-way (I don’t know what the net to the driver was). I do understand that while drivers don’t know their destination before accepting a ride on local trips, they do have a sense of where they’re headed before they accept something like this. Readers who have driven for Uber and Lyft can correct me.

The best thing about making the Lyft trip, it seems to me, would be double dipping by requesting ‘original routing credit’ from Delta (still earning your miles for the cancelled segment) and crediting the Lyft trip to Bilt Rewards.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “Let’s put ourselves on the other side of the counter. We have a responsibility over and above the price of a ticket.” – C.E. Woolman. The fact is…Delta did not leave the passengers stranded. Force majeure (weather) is beyond the airline’s control and is not normally a reason to provide any compensation to passengers. However, Delta took the high road and got the passengers home. What the arrangement that Delta has with Lyft is none of your business. I dare say that the driver wasn’t left without proper compensation either.

  2. “What the arrangement that Delta has with Lyft is none of your business” …. That’s a bit rude

  3. I work at Uber and in the US they see the route/destination and their earnings prior to accepting a trip. Not sure about Lyft though

  4. Back in the early 00s, Northwest paid a $200 cab bill for my husband to go from VPS to Pensacola to catch a flight when VPS was fogged in but Pensacola was not. (He’d had a previous flight cancelled for mechanical reasons, and the ‘mechanical’ reason was still in his PNR)

    And it’s pretty common for station managers in my part of the world to still do the charter bus to final destination after diversion during winter fog season.

  5. When I book a flight, I book a flight, Not a cab, Not a train or boat. And not a bus.
    Delta is Pathetic.

  6. One of the biggest reasons for flying is getting to the destination quickly. But short of that, the means of getting there and time it takes might not be very pleasant. I hate to be the one that paid a premium for their seat and got stuck traveling via Lyft.

  7. I would much rather be driven to my home airport, than wait a day for the next available flight.

  8. Overbooked flight from London (Ontario) to Detroit. I was put in a taxi by Northwest Mesaba. Gave up my seat so a family could travel to Florida connecting in DTW.

  9. Lyft has a feature called UPFRONT earnings for the drivers myself being one. We are well aware of what we’d make the trip as well as the destination. i’m 95% sure that the drivers will be low balled and typically trips like that would have been lucrative prior to the upfront feature, where we’d be paid a per mile and per minute rate. The upfront fare is a blessing but more so if a curse since, conditions on the suggested route may take longer then the system generated time Lyft thinks it will take. for us to arrive. That being said it’s sketchy.

  10. Delta should be ashamed. They didn’t take the “high road”, they took the low road. Forcing passengers to take a Lyft. The passengers would have been better off getting credit from Delta and booking their own transport.

  11. Sorry I drive for UBER. There are a lot of those trips from the airport now. Don’t ever fool yourself into thinking the drivers are compensated for those trips. 50 cents a mile isn’t compensation for driving 5 hours there and 5 hours back. The return trip when the car is empty and you aren’t making any money at all. That’s why UBERS CEO makes 24 million a year Salary. The drivers are slaves to big corporations like any other job.

  12. I’m sure you could decline the Lyft offer and wait for the next available flight. It’s great to have options. Bravo, Delta!

  13. I have driven for Uber and Lyft in 2018. I have had passengers stranded at CLT who missed their connection to CAE or AVL, so I drove them. At the time you ended up with about 40% of the quoted passenger rate before tips. And of course before depreciation and fuel, etc. Still… they were fun rides.

    Longest trips I drove were CLT – ATL with an influencer (and her little lap dog) and CLT – Fort Bragg with a high level military guy. Both fell asleep (I had reclining seats in the back).

    You can make money on the way back, at least you could in 2018. You could set your app to “pick up rides along the way and you would get the occasional additional trip. As mind numbing and car destroying that year was, it did keep the lights on…

  14. Jane T
    Are you handcuffed to the car? Are you forced at gunpoint to work for UBER? Is there a reason you can’t/won’t get a job somewhere else?
    Slaves….like any other job….well, I guess that answers the getting another job part. I’m guessing you did pretty well during the pandemic with all the free money and other subsidies that came your way….plus the freedom to just give your landlord the finger for the past three years must have been pretty cool too right?

  15. With all due respect to ALL of the ride share drivers in the world…
    Accepting a 5 hour drive, at night, in heavy weather, with a possible very tired unknown driver is like driving without a spare tire!
    Enough said

  16. The people who are commenting on this probably never drove for lyft or Uber to really have any sympathy for drivers. These ride share companies have to be put back to where they belong. They are really exploiting the drivers and all the government organizations are complacent to these ride share companies and not protecting their citizens. The drivers need to go on strike to solve their issues with these companies exploiting them to the bone.

  17. Uber and lyft drivers like me, do lyft on the side to help with our bills, and some do it ft, sorry some of us don’t have college degrees and a high paying job, and not all ( of us) gave our landlord the finger we are people too with morals, sorry if we’re not appreciated, but when you drive 5 hours 1 way and empty the way back not making money and people barely tipping, even though they tip a bartender or waitress, why don’t you go to work and get paid for a half day even though you worked all day! I made a trip from BUF- CLE in a lake effect snow storm while it was clear in buf yea we can deny the trip but some of us have a heart to help get you home NEXT TIME ILL DECLINE GOOD LUCK GETTI G HOME! We are not paid like you think like the other person said uber exec makes 24 million yr and lyft executives does well too

  18. I’m sure the PAX just wanted to get home!! Via Delta, via ride share, it didn’t matter. So no hard luck story here. All involved accepted the terms, the risk and the rewards!!

  19. Chris: sorry to let you know this but I’m retired. I’ve been working since I was 14. I own my house and my car, always pay my bills and still work. I love what I do and I love my customers for the most part. That being said the next time you need a ride when you are stuck don’t call uber or lyft. We provide a much needed service and people like you have no idea how it works or how we get paid.

  20. Wow, what a bunch of entitled losers here. If delta offered me this over having to stay overnight, I’ll take that any day. I can’t believe people are blasting delta here for doing the right thing. What part of *weather* is confusing to some of you?

  21. For those who condemn any airline for diverting to another airport because of bad weather or any other force majeure event obviously doesn’t understand safety or understand tariffs. The airline is under NO OBLIGATION to provide services during a force majeure…NADA. Force majeure is “a clause that is included in contracts to remove liability for unforeseeable and unavoidable catastrophes that interrupt the expected course of events and prevent participants from fulfilling obligations. These clauses generally cover natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes, as well as human actions, such as armed conflict and man-made diseases.” Company strikes, work stoppage, employee shortages, etc. is not a force majeure. Thus, the airline COULD be held liable for failure to honor the contract of carriage. In the instance described in the article, the airline is under NO OBLIGATION but, the airline offered alternative transportation which the passenger(s) are free to decline. Regarding “…a bit rude”… few companies that I know of are willing to discuss business arrangements with suppliers, etc. That information is usually proprietary and is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS…period.

  22. I don’t think it is a bad idea but…I hope those Lyft drivers are compensated. They should at least get paid some wear and tear and mileage. If not, the passenger should be tipping the driver at least $100.00. If you don’t, then you are a cheap fool who is taking advantage of someone who obviously isn’t weathly.

  23. Back in the day when People Express was flying, the wife and I booked tickets at Christmas from Newark to Buffalo. The self-described airline cancelled the evening flight and had a large number of angry people who had shelled out their $99. The gate agents were overwhelmed and had some muscular and no nonsense young men replace them. The thug agents announced matter of factly that several buses would arrive to take us overnight to Buffalo. The buses were cold and the seats were uncomfortably caved in. Miserable trip arrived after dawn. I can’t figure out why the so-called carrier soon failed.

  24. A driver would be a fool to take a trip like that. Unless if the net fare would be $270. Whoever took this ride probably got no more than $130.

  25. Uber now typically takes 50% of the fare. In 2016/2017 their take was ~ 20-25%. Additionally, the driver would be forced to deadhead back to DTW. The odds of a paid return trip are infinitesimal.

  26. Delta might be one of the largest airlines in the world, but it still cannot control weather. Back in the day, when a flight cancelled due to weather…. We would rebook the passenger on the first available flight we could find. No hotel, vouchers, pretty much nothing. The fact Delta even gave them a Lyft is shocking. The passenger should consider themselves lucky.

  27. Uber drivers, at the very least, I can’t vouch for Lyft drivers, do actually know exactly where they’re headed nowadays if they’re Uber Pro Blue status or higher, just to correct you on that matter.

  28. Lyft/Uber drivers net about half of any given fair. After gas and depreciation, they make less than minimum wage. Tips are necessary to keep these drivers on the road. I put four years into rideshare, will never do it again, losing business model. There is no such thing as a successful Uber/Lyft driver if customers don’t tip heavy.

  29. So, I am a full-time Uber/Lyft independent driver partner who chooses to accept long-haul trips when available. I have been full-time with Uber for more than 6 years and full-time with Lyft for more than 5 years.

    I am glad that Delta provided this service for their customers and it is my desire that all other airlines will follow suit. I have heard from a passenger or two of mine that, in the particular instance of them requesting a rideshare, it was much cheaper for them to rideshare instead of to rent a vehicle. I am not saying that is so in every case, however.

    I think that people really do not want to drive after they were expecting to be flown to their destination. Rideshare drivers are the first go-to in certain emergencies as this because there are so many of us available literally at a moment’s notice. This is the service which we provide. That is why businesses and agencies call upon us when they are in a pinch.

    Now, for the drivers which accept these trips, please do not accept the trip if you do not wish to try and make money on your way back or if it is an inconvenience for you to be out on such a long distance. Please do not do that to yourself. Allow someone else, like me, to accept the trip.

    If, however, you should accept it, then when you arrive at your destination already have your app set to go offline. Then, go to a very nice hotel and cut the app back on. There, you may come across someone who is going to an airport or to an area in the direction of your return destination. Of course, to begin with, you would have to be in an area where you are allowed to provide rideshare service. That is something else to take in consideration before accepting the trip.

    You can always set a destination filter for going back; provided you still have one available for use. If that particular area you are in is one in which you are allowed to work, then you can make money in that area before you head back to your desired area of work. All in all, it is best to try and make gas money before you head back and/or on your way back.

    You can pick up some locals trips while you are there; while always returning to a very nice hotel to try for a pickup which may take you to an airport or towards your way with or without your destination filter set.

    It is something that you have to play with by ear and have a good time doing it along the way. If that is not your fancy, then please do not accept the trip and be disgusted and miserable the entire round trip. Don’t do that to yourself.

  30. Met a guy in the ‘E’ Skyclub in Atlanta yesterday…well he met me…because he was hammered and wanted to talk. He regaled me about Delta cancelling his flight from somewhere in Florida due to weather and got him to Atlanta via car.

  31. Mark from Uber. No, you may be wrong. Not everyone has UpFront pricing. Or market does not. Blue Level drivers have no idea where they are going until AFTER swiping the Rider in. And in our market, we no longer see Surge pricing on our maps. You learn what you earned from Surge after the trip is over. Oh, and when you have one Rider in your car and one Rider in your Queue, heaven forbid the current passenger change his trip. It knocks the Rider in your Queue out of the Queue and back into the waiting line!! Maybe that second rider had been waiting 30-40 minutes looking for a ride, only to have to stay over….

  32. I drive for Lyft and Uber. Lyft shows where the trip is going. Uber does not. Uber and Lyft take 50% of the fare. That trip from Detriot to Cincinnati is not worth it because the driver won’t get a trip back to Detroit. Delta saves money, Lyft makes money and the driver gets screwed.

  33. So in other words: “I really wish my crappy job paid more but I’m too lazy to go get another one that does. I’ll just continue to complain instead of getting off my ass and doing something responsible to improve my living situation.”
    There’s always government assistance I guess.

  34. So the Lyft driver had to drive the passenger from Detroit to Cincinnati but the thing about it the driver could not get a ride back till he returned to Michigan each state has different rules I am a Lyft driver and had to deliver a passernger to sterling Heights Michigan once there I was told by Lyft that because I was an ohio driver I could not drive in Michigan

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