As major flight delays and cancellations worldwide continue to make headlines, Delta Air Lines wound up offering a huge chunk of change to passengers willing to leave an oversold flight, according to two passengers on the plane.
Inc. Magazine tech columnist Jason Aten tweeted this week that he had boarded a flight from Michigan to Minneapolis and Delta “just offered $10,000 for people to give up their seats.” The next day, he elaborated on the experience in a piece for Inc.
“As we sat on the plane waiting to leave the gate, the announcement overhead explained that the flight was apparently oversold and they were looking for eight volunteers,” he wrote. “In exchange for their seats, Delta was offering $10,000 cash.”
Even more enticingly, he said a flight attendant told passengers, “If you have Apple Pay, you’ll even have the money right now.”
Fellow passenger Todd McCrumb backed up Aten’s account, both on Twitter and in an interview with Fortune. An airline agent had initially offered $5,000 while people were still at the gate, but kept upping the amount when people weren’t taking it, McCrumb told Fortune.
McCrumb was traveling with his wife and said on Twitter she had health issues that prevented them from being able to leave the flight. In his piece for Inc., Aten said he did not take the offer “for reasons I’m not going to get into because my wife is still not pleased about it.”
Delta Air Lines did not immediately return a request for comment from HuffPost. But a spokesperson gave a somewhat vague statement when reached by Fortune.
“The ability to provide compensation empowers our employees to take care of our customers and get our aircraft out on time,” the spokesperson said.
Airlines routinely overbook flights on purpose in anticipation that a certain percentage of passengers won’t show up. When more ticketed passengers show up than there are seats on the plane, companies typically offer various incentives to get some people to rebook.
In 2017, Delta raised the maximum amount agents could offer passengers to $9,950 ― a huge bump from the previous maximum payout amount of $1,350, CNBC reported at the time. That decision came days after physician David Dao was violently dragged off of an overbooked United Airlines flight, prompting widespread outrage at United and Chicago airport police.