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.
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.