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Delta is testing out a new voluntary bumping process in which passengers "bid" for compensation.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "If a flight is overbooked, travelers checking in at an airport kiosk or online see a screen asking them if they'd like to submit a bid for the value of a travel voucher they would take to be bumped. Customers enter a dollar amount. Delta makes clear that it accepts lower bids first."
Traditionally, airlines simply offer vouchers in specific amounts, and will increase those amounts if no one volunteers. Delta's approach, which appears to be the first of its kind, seems designed to push voucher amounts in the other direction. Outbidding the competition, in this sense, means bidding lower, not higher. Or so Delta hopes.
Of course, the opposite could also be true. Unless a traveler is desperate to be bumped, there's no good reason to bid low. Why not bid $300 or more, and see what happens?
Besides potentially lowering compensation costs, Delta says the program should also simplify things for the gate agents. Instead of sorting through volunteers, they can focus on boarding passengers and assisting travelers whose bids are chosen.
You can bet other airlines are watching Delta's experiment with great interest. Delta hasn't offered any hints about the success or lack thereof of the program, which has quietly been in place since November.
Readers, what do you think about bidding for bumping compensation? Good opportunity for travelers, or a bizarre Darwinist social experiment/cost-cutting gimmick by Delta?