Delta offered $10,000 to each passenger who volunteered to be bumped from an oversold flight.
A passenger told KTVB 7 the airline raised the offer from $5,000 to $10,000 to entice volunteers.
Air passengers are facing flight delays and chaos as demand returns to pre-pandemic levels.
Delta Air Lines offered $10,000 to each passenger who volunteered to be bumped from an oversold flight out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Monday morning, according to various media reports.
Inc. magazine columnist Jason Aten wrote that he was waiting at the gate for a flight to Minnesota when Delta announced it was looking for eight volunteers to get on a later flight. The carrier offered $10,000 to each of those willing to give up their seats, he said.
Aten's group of eight did not put their hands up as they didn't immediately know how many volunteers were needed, he told Fortune.
"Had we known it was eight, we would have gotten off. By the time that was clear, four or five people had already left," he told the media outlet.
At least one other passenger has corroborated Aten's account. Todd McCrumb told KTVB 7 the offer went up from $5,000 to $10,000. McCrumb said he and his wife did not take up the offer, which was paid via Apple Pay or a Visa gift card, though he saw at least four others taking it up.
While Delta's $10,000 payout is rare, the airline did increase the maximum amount it would pay to bump passengers from oversold flights from $1,350 to $10,000 in 2017, according to a CNBC report citing a leaked bulletin to staff.
Delta's unusually high compensation comes amid a messy summer travel season with flight delays and chaos across the industry as demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Issues faced by airlines include staff — including pilot — shortages and bad weather.
With the long Fourth of July weekend coming up, the industry is bracing for another round of disruptions. Over the Juneteenth and Father's Day weekends, US airlines canceled or delayed more than 35,000 flights collectively.
On Tuesday, Delta said it would let passengers change their Fourth of July weekend flights for free. Delta CEO Ed Bastian apologized to its SkyMiles members for recent flight delays and cancellations.
"We've spent years establishing Delta as the industry leader in reliability, and though the majority of our flights continue to operate on time, this level of disruption and uncertainty is unacceptable," Bastian wrote in a Thursday email.
Delta has canceled 4% of its flights since the Memorial Day weekend that marked the beginning of the summer travel season, Bloomberg reported, citing FlightAware data.
Delta did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment that was sent outside regular business hours.
Editor's note: Aten has previously contributed stories to Insider Inc.
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