Delta could offer passengers close to $10,000 to give up their seats

Delta is giving airport employees permission to offer passengers up to almost $10,000 in compensation to give up their seats on overbooked flights.

In an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press, Delta says gate agents can offer up to $2,000 in compensation, up from a previous maximum of $800, and supervisors can offer up to $9,950, up from $1,350.

Delta’s move comes as United Airlines struggles to recover from images of a passenger’s forced removal from a sold-out flight.

United first offered passengers up to $1,000 to give up their seats in order to fit four crew members on the full flight, but then selected passengers to de-plane when no one volunteered.

When David Dao, 69, refused to give up his seat, he was forcibly removed by three police officers, igniting backlash on social media.

In an interview with Business Insider, aviation analyst Henry Harteveldt questioned why United didn’t try to offer a bigger incentive when the situation started to escalate.

“There’s no limit to what an airline can pay,” Harteveldt said. “It’s generally cheaper for an airline to proactively ask people to give up their seats because the compensation is usually less.”

There is no federal limit as to how much carriers can offer volunteers who give up their seats. But the Department of Transportation does limit the amount an airline can compensate passengers who are involuntarily bumped from a plane to $1,350.