Delta said it is increasing the maximum incentive for volunteers to “reinforce our commitment to our agents and their ability to care for our customers,” according to the memo.
Delta also solicits passengers to bid for how much they are willing to give up their seat for before they ever get to the gate, through an electronic bidding system during check-in online or at an airport kiosk.
That already reduces the rate of involuntarily bumped passengers on Delta flights.
Delta had 1,238 involuntarily bumped passengers in 2016, a rate of 0.1 per 10,000 passengers. That was the second-best rate among U.S. airlines.
Customer service agents trying to resolve overbookings can draw from the list of those who volunteered to give up their seats for a price, and can also ask for more volunteers.
The memo states that agents should start “at a lower compensation and increase, if necessary,” and call up passengers who may have non-stop alternatives that could get them to their destinations faster.
One best practice listed in the memo: “Sell the city” in case the passenger will be spending the night.
But if more volunteers are still needed, agents are directed to page those at risk of being involuntarily bumped, “inform them of their status” and share their options.