Savvy Flyer Turns Delays Into $11K Windfall

Open Jaw

It sure beats getting physically dragged off a flight.

A Delta passenger turned a bad experience at LGA into a lucrative opportunity, amassing $11,000 in compensation for repeated flight delays.

After storms plagued DL with system-wide delays and cancellations last week, Laura Begley Bloom and her family headed to the airport Friday for a planned long weekend trip to FLL, hoping that the worst of the disruptions had passed.

But Travel + Leisure reports that after many hours and delays, gate agents began asking for volunteers to give up seats on the Blooms’ overbooked flight, which already had 60 standby passengers stranded from cancelations over the previous two days.

At first, Bloom says she ignored the offer, but once an announcement for $900 per seat was made, her husband approached the agent to say that he, his wife, and their 4-year old daughter would be willing to give up their seats for $1,500 each. The agent made a counteroffer of $1,350, the maximum amount an airline is able to compensate a passenger under U.S. law.

They were also told they would be re-booked on a flight leaving early the next day. So the Blooms went home with $4,050 in gift cards, after originally paying $650 for each of the three seats.

But when Bloom went to check-in for their flights online Saturday morning, she saw that their new flight had already been delayed.

“I turned to my husband and said, ‘Cha-ching!,’" Bloom told Travel + Leisure.

By the time they got to the airport, the airline had already started asking for volunteers. The Blooms waited as the offers increased from $300 to $1,300 per seat. That’s when they volunteered and collected another $3,900 in gift cards.

The Delta agents also threw in lunch at $15 each and $50 in round-trip taxi fare for the ride home.

The gate agents began looking into re-book them on a Sunday flight, but when they later heard from other pax that flights were overbooked until Tuesday, Bloom and her husband decided to volunteer to cancel the trip entirely if they were further compensated.

“The offer was met with smiles and another $1,000 per person in advance compensation. Delta sweetened the deal by refunding the cost of the three plane tickets,” Bloom said.

In total, the Blooms received nearly $11,000 — all entirely in gift cards, with choices including American Express, Target and Macy’s.

Bloom is no stranger to the travel biz – she was previously a deputy editor for Travel + Leisure and editor-in-chief of Yahoo Travel. She wrote about the situation in a column for Forbes, and received both plaudits and criticism.

“I felt a bit guilty making so much money off the situation, but other passengers pointed out that we were freeing up seats for people who really needed to get somewhere,” Bloom said. “Many passengers actually thanked us for doing this.”


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