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Almost Killed on a Plane? Here’s a Free Ticket

I wasn’t going to comment on the recent security dust-up following the failed terrorist bombing of Northwest Flight 253. The story has been covered from every conceivable angle, eliciting comments representing the full spectrum of political and business perspectives. I had nothing to add.

But then I happened upon an Associated Press (AP) story that added a new wrinkle to the event’s aftermath.

According to Harry Weber, the AP airlines writer, Delta “is offering travel credits to passengers on the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight that a suspected terrorist tried and failed to blow up on Christmas.”

I didn’t know whether to shake my head in wonder or roll my eyes in disbelief.

Offering passengers on an almost-exploded plane vouchers that can only be used to take yet another airline flight. Is this not strange?

To me, Delta’s action defies common sense. Or maybe it’s that the sense displayed by Delta is just that, common.

Would a restaurant that serves up a rip-roaring case of food poisoning offer affected diners a free meal as compensation? It doesn’t take a business guru to see the glaring disconnect there.

I’m not sure what Delta could or should have offered passengers on Flight 253. Maybe nothing. The lapse in security that caused the incident wasn’t Delta’s fault, so there’s no legal or moral reason for them to “compensate” anyone, as far as I can see.

And offering them more opportunities to fly seems cheap (no cost to Delta) and misguided (relive the trauma, anyone?).

If the goal is compensation, then cash is king. A restaurant voucher might be appreciated. Even frequent flyer miles would be more appropriate than a voucher, since they could be redeemed for something other than another flight.

Perhaps this off-pitch gesture is Delta’s way of stanching the flow of lawsuits that inevitably follow such incidents in these litigious times. If so, it seems inadequate and possibly self-defeating.

But maybe I have it all wrong and Delta actually got this right. I’ll put it to our readers: If you’d been on Flight 253, would you expect compensation for the inconvenience and anxiety you’d been exposed to? And if so, what sort of compensation would seem fair and appropriate?

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