Delta Airlines Aircraft Etihad 777 flight

Days after pilots go on strike, Delta airline is offering $10,000 to eight upset customers on an oversold flight. With this, Delta made clear its commitment to exceptional customer service. Other airlines are not even offering money only travel vouchers, and the value for those is nowhere near $10K. The aviation industry is highly competitive, meaning this could set a new standard. But will give its pilots the same generous energy when renegotiating their contracts?

1. What We Know So Far

Delta offering to pay passengers $10K to give up their seats on oversold flights is by no means correlated to its pilot strike. However, both of these occurrences are caused by the aftermath of the pandemic and inflation. Many furloughed senior in-flight crew members are not returning to the workforce causing massive delays and canceled flights. Although the fuel cost increase is rising the ticket value, the customer service has been mediocre at best. And, it’s not just Delta, all airline are experiencing delays and cancelations, staff shortages, and faulty airplanes.


2. A Matter of Morality

Is $10K too much to for Delta to offer passaggers in exchange for them giving up their seats on a flight? It really depends on who you’re asking. For eight passengers traveling from Minnesota to Alaska, the amount was just right to ditch or change their weekend flights. Tech Columnist for Inc., Jason Aten, who was at the gate waiting to board the flight writes “they were looking for eight volunteers. In exchange for their seats, Delta was offering $10,000 cash. “If you have Apple Pay, you’ll even have the money right now,” the flight attendant said.” This is unlike any other airline’s offering its passengers under the same circumstances. At best, other airlines only offer $2k at most, only in travel vouchers, for them to give up their seat.

Delta might have set a new standard for how airlines can right their wrongs, but it has yet to do the same with its employees.

3. The Pandemic Is No Longer An Excuse

Pilots across all airlines are overworked and exhausted. Delta shared with NPR, “Earlier this year, Delta, ALPA, and a representative from the National Mediation Board restarted our mediated contract negotiations that had been paused for almost two years due to the pandemic.” However, we are now halfway through the year. The last time a contract was negotiated between Delta and its pilots was in 2016. In addition to higher pay, Delta pilots seek better work-life balance, health insurance, retirement, and job security aside from better working conditions. Reed Donoghue, a Delta pilot who’s been with the company for six years, shared with NPR that “so far in 2022, Delta pilots are on pace by the end of the summer to have clocked more overtime hours than in 2018 and 2019 combined.”

To be fair to Delta, there are a thousand factors happening simultaneously that affect flights. In trying to be realistic about their current workforce, airlines have already cut over 2,000 flights from their summer schedule. And Delta is being overly generous with frustrated customers dealing with the aftermath of limited flights. However, we need to remember that Delta owes its customers’ safety to its pilots.

4. The Bottom Line

There is something disrespectful about an airline setting such a precedent for customer service and easily ditching out $80K while they have yet to give their employees a raise. The debate is not either-or. In an ideal world none of this would be happening, but it is. In revering Delta for its $10K compensation to passengers, they should be as equally held accountable for not giving their employees the indutry-leading contracts they have been promised since 2019. At the minimum, a timeline for the next few months detailing the next steps for negations.