Passengers on a Delta Air Lines flight from Michigan to Minnesota reported that the airline offered them $10,000 this week to give up their seat on an oversold flight.
The airline offered the money to each passenger who volunteered to be bumped from a domestic flight out of Grand Rapids Monday morning, according to media outlets.
Delta did not immediately return a request for comment from USA TODAY.
Jason Aten, a tech columnist at Inc. magazine, wrote he was sitting on the outbound plane for waiting for the aircraft to leave the gate when a flight attendant got on the intercom. The crew was looking for eight volunteers to give up their seats on the “apparently oversold” flight, offering them $10,000 each.
“If you have Apple Pay, you’ll even have the money right now,” the flight attendant said, Aten wrote.
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Aten told Fortune his group of eight – whose final destination was Alaska – didn’t raise their hands because they didn’t immediately know how many volunteers were needed.
“Had we known it was eight, we would have gotten off,” he told the media outlet. “By the time that was clear, four or five people had already left.”
“Spoiler alert: We did not take it for reasons I’m not going to get into because my wife is still not pleased about it,” Aten wrote.
At least one other passenger confirmed Aten’s account.
“It’s a true story. I was on that flight!” ToddMcCrumb tweeted. “Unfortunately, I could not take advance (sic) the offer, as I was flying with my wife who has very limited eyesight. She has to have me nearby when traveling.”
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McCrumb told KTVB 7 the offer started at $5,000 but increased to $10,000.
“I looked at my wife and I thought, ‘No way,'” McCrumb told the outlet. Although the couple did not volunteer, he said, but he saw at least four others accept the offer.
It was not immediately known how many people volunteered, but eventually the flight departed 20 minutes later than scheduled from Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, according to Cirium’s flight tracker.
It arrived in Minneapolis at 7:16 a.m. CT.
On Thursday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian apologized for flight delays and cancellations that have tormented travelers in recent weeks as the airline’s pilots took to picket lines to complain about overscheduling, “poor reliability” and contract disputes.
In a LinkedIn post, Bastian wrote: “If you’ve encountered delays and cancellations recently, I apologize. 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.”
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The move also comes on the heels of Delta announcing in late May it was cutting 100 daily flights this summer as travel demand heats up.
“From July 1-Aug. 7, we’ll reduce service by approximately 100 daily departures, primarily in markets in the U.S. and Latin America that Delta frequently serves,” the airline announced on its website.
Earlier this week, the airline announced that passengers flying over the July Fourth weekend will not have a fare difference when rebooking travel.
Airlines have been struggling with reliability throughout the summer. Thousands of flights were canceled around Memorial Day weekend, and more delays, cancellations and difficulties have been stacking up pretty much every day since.
In large part, it’s a result of staffing shortages after airlines downsized earlier in the pandemic. Now, they’re struggling to catch up – and staff up – to meet this summer’s surging demand.
Contributing: Zach Wichter. Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.