Jess Smith | 

Overbooking on Delta: Passengers Got $10,000 to Give Up Their Seats

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Delta had an overbooking problem on one flight, and apparently offered passengers $10,000.

Would you give up your flight for $10,000? Well, according to travelers on the recent flight, some people did.

With a recent uptick in overbookings, flight cancellations, and delays, this is pretty wild. Could this happen to you? How can you jump on it? Here are a few things we just learned about Delta and overbooking.

And, if you want to figure out how to save cash on your flight, then check out our 22 Delta hacks.


Delta is willing to pay big money for you to give up your seat, if their overbooking situation is desperate enough.

Two people walking onto a small Delta plane on a runway.

Overbooking on a Delta flight from Grand Rapids, Mich. to Minneapolis, Minn. made some passengers a whopping $10,000 richer.

The airline needed eight people to give up their seats, and multiple passengers said that as the departure time got closer, and nobody budged, Delta upped the ante. They offered passengers $5,000 — cash, not Delta credit — then $7,500, before finally settling on a jaw-dropping $10,000 per seat.

Five people reportedly took the offer, and the flight left 20 minutes after schedule. Delta didn’t confirm the claims but released a statement to CBS MoneyWatch saying they can compensate to avoid a delayed Delta flight status.


Delta apparently offered instant access to the funds to passengers who had Apple Pay.

Two Delta passengers being scanned in by a Delta employee in front of a Delta Sky Club sign.

What, no Venmo? According to witnesses, Delta offered instant payments if you had Apple Pay.

If you find yourself offered cash in exchange for your seat, you most likely won’t get it as fast the Delta passengers.

If cash is offered, passengers usually aren’t paid until they reach the next destination. If a voucher is offered then you could get that instantly.


If you’re asked to give up your flight seat voluntarily due to overbooking, barter for as much money as possible.

A Delta gate desk next to Sky Priority and zone signs.

Most airlines will offer you some kind of voucher to make up for your inconvenience – but don’t let them lowball you.

They start off by offering a $1,000 voucher, but find out the cash value and ask for more. For instance if the cash value is only worth $500, ask for $800 in cash and they’ll increase the voucher amount or offer you cash.

If they offer you a voucher instead of cash, then make sure the value of the voucher is worth the inconvenience of being booted from your flight.

If the airline is struggling to find people to voluntarily leave the flight then you definitely have the leverage to barter, so use it to your advantage.



If you’re involuntarily bumped off a flight due to overbooking, you can get up to $1,550 in compensation.

A person standing at a desk at an airport, talking to an employee.

If you are asked to give up your seat due to a flight overbooking and your flight was delayed for at least an hour, you could get up to $1,550 in compensation.

Compensation for bumped passengers depends on how late you’ll get to your destination.

If you’re one to two hours late, you’ll be paid 200% of your fare, up to $775. If you’re more than two hours late, you’ll get 400% of your fare, up to $1,550. But as we saw with Delta, if they’re desperate enough, the amount jumps.


If you’re looking to get bumped, fly Frontier. If you’re trying to avoid it, fly Allegiant.

A Frontier plane mid-flight.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, one passenger for every 20,000 passengers boarding were bumped from their flight due to oversales in the first quarter of 2022.

If you’re someone who isn’t too tied to their flight schedule, and are trying to get bumped from flights to get paid, fly Frontier Airlines. They currently have the highest bumping rate of 2022 — with one passenger for every 2,000.

On average, they’ll pay you $550 if they’re the ones to bump you, but make sure you aren’t owed more.

If you’re trying to avoid getting bumped then Allegiant Air is your best bet with one passenger for every 300,000.


Lots of flights are getting canceled — but you don’t get paid for your canceled flight.

An aerial shot of airport gates, with lots of planes parked.

During the Fourth of July weekend, FlightAware noted 2,000 flights were canceled – about 2% of scheduled flights. This follows the trend of holiday travel cancellation spikes.

During Memorial Day weekend, 3% of flights experienced cancellations; during Father’s Day and Juneteenth weekend, 4% of flights experienced them.

This is a massive jump from 2019 when the number of canceled flights didn’t go over 1%, even during holiday travel.

Staff shortages and an extreme rise in travel after the pandemic contributed to the slew of flight cancellations and delays. Sadly, you don’t get paid if those inconveniences occur.



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