Delta Paid One Woman $4000 For a Bump Today — She’ll Still Fly Tonight!

In the aftermath of the David Dao dragging incident in April, several airlines revamped their policies around paying denied boarding compensation. Delta authorized gate agents to go up to $2000 in compensation, and allowed supervisors to offer up to $9950.

I’ve never heard of anyone receiving anything close to $10,000. Involuntary denied boardings are exceedingly rare already, especially on Delta. When they do guess wrong on overbooking customers usually volunteer their seats for a few hundred dollars.

Today however a passenger did receive several thousand dollars to give up their seat on an overbooked flight. Tracy Jarvis Smith accepted $4000 and only had to delay her travel by several hours today.

This was first reported in a tweet by the Sports Director for the ABC television affiliate in Atlanta who was on the flight.

I had to look it up, but the Georgia Bulldogs are playing Notre Dame this weekend for the first time ever in South Bend, Indiana and University of Georgia fans didn’t want to miss it.

The bidding had hit $2200 with no takers.

Then $2800. TAhey were trying to get someone who had already boarded to give up their seat.

And it kept going.

And here’s the guy with a confirmed reservation but no seat who made it onto the oversold flight once Ms. Smith took the $4000.

(HT: Sean O. and Ryan C.)

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. […] These new limits were put to the test when Delta oversold a flight from Atlanta to South Bend, Indiana earlier this month. Delta’s problem was that the University of Georgia football team was playing Notre Dame in South Bend and it was likely that everyone on the flight wanted to get to the game. They eventually found someone willing to give up their seat…..for $4000!!!!!  […]

  2. […] Airlines generally ask for volunteers to take later flights in instances like these. In return, the volunteers are given rewards such as gift cards, vouchers for future travel, etc. (Here on the blog, we call these “Bumpertunities.”) We’ve taken voluntarily denied boarding opportunities like these countless times and scored anywhere from $400 to $3,000. A few years ago, a woman traveling to South Bend, Indiana, received $4,000 in Delta bump vouchers. […]


  1. i was recently on a UA flight when one of the seats became inoperable and had to be taken out of service and they had to come into the cabin with the bids and i’m like “oh great, don’t let history repeat”

    started at $800 but someone took it at $1000, but must stay overnight. i really wanted to take it if not for work commitments.

  2. But the game is tomorrow… I don’t understand why no one was willing to take one of the lower amounts when they’d still make the game.

  3. Bulldog fans have basically taken over downtown Chicago. I was just there. The interesting game is Saturday – Stanford/USC. GO CARDINAL!

  4. And how long did this process take? This shows that sometimes, it takes a very large number before people will take it. 4k is alot more than 800.

  5. Why wouldn’t they just IDB the guy who couldn’t get on board? Surely that would be less than $4,000…

  6. Insane. Even if a UGA fan couldn’t get on the 7pm flight, its only about a 9-10 hour drive from ATL to South Bend. You could have rented a car for about $100 all in and still made it there the same day. Not a not of UGA business majors on the flight?

  7. I was also on this flight and received 4,000 Delta dollars to take the later flight. There were 5 or 6 of us who got this deal. By the time I reached the gate, Delta was already offering $1,800 for volunteers to be moved to the 5:48 p.m. flight. At that time they still needed two more seats. I was told that everyone who gives up their seat will get the same amount that is given to the final volunteer. I told the agent to add me to the list

    Once boarding began, Delta continued to raise the offer but no one accepted. After boarding was completed Delta continued to increase the offer, and no one accepted until $4,000 was reached, which turned out great for the rest of us who volunteered at a lower amount.

    I’m now in South Bend looking forward to the game tomorrow.

  8. @skofarrel

    Where did *you* go to school? I don’t see the problem here — somebody got $4000 for a VDB. Are you suggesting someone should have taken less? What’s it to you?

  9. I told my friend who is a Delta gate agent in Atlanta about this and his response was heck that’s nothing. He said they recently gave $6,000 each to 16 passengers (i.e. $96,000) to get off an overbooked plane. Now that’s serious money. And kudos to Delta for doing this! But I wonder how in the world the computer can guess wrong by 16 seats.

  10. Amazing! And I still can’t wring 1/10th of that out of TAP AirPortugal for having arrived a day late at my destination several months ago. No meal voucher, no hotel … nothing.

    So I’d say she did quite well!

  11. Since it’s just a credit, why do many online articles and blogs have titles implying the traveler received $xxxx when it’s really a credit for that airline? Does any airline ever give actual $$$$ instead of credit for bumps?

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