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Delta to pay up to US$10,000 to bumped customers

[NEW YORK] Delta Air Lines has increased the maximum possible payout to passengers to nearly US$10,000 if they voluntarily give up a seat on an overbooked flight, the company told AFP Monday.

The boost is part of the airline industry's response to the global outrage sparked by last week's violent removal of a customer from a United Airlines Chicago flight after he resisted being "bumped" by the carrier.

Delta customer service employees will be permitted to offer up to US$2,000 in these cases, up from the prior cap of US$800.

Supervisors will be able to grant up to US$9,950, up from the prior limit of US$1,350.

The increases came after United came under fire after it called security officers to forcibly remove passenger David Dao from an overbooked flight in order to seat crew members for another flight.

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Video of the episode went viral, sparking calls for greater scrutiny of airlines from politicians.

United, which is undertaking an audit of its practices, already amended some policies, saying it will require employees to be booked at least 60 minutes prior to departure. United evicted Dao and three other passengers from the flight to make room for employees.

The incident shone a new light on the practice of overbooking, which airlines increasingly rely upon to avoid losing money on seats left empty when some passengers do not show up for scheduled flights.

Delta has described overbooking as a necessary industry practice, in part because of weather uncertainty, and said the process can be managed effectively.


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