A Georgia woman who recounted how she received $4,000 in Delta Air Lines vouchers when she gave up her seat on an overbooked flight says she is now considering taking a free trip with her entire family in tow.
“It was like a live auction on the plane,” Tracy Smith told ABC News of the moments airline staff began asking for someone to give up their seat. “The instruction from the crew was to press your button, your flight attendant button, if you were going to take the offer.”
Smith said she boarded her flight from Atlanta, Georgia, to South Bend, Indiana, on Sept. 8 with her husband and son because they had tickets to the Georgia versus Notre Dame football game. She first heard the flight was overbooked when she arrived at the gate, and says that Delta Air Lines workers began compensations for people to give up their seats.
“My husband and I boarded the plane, and got into our seats, buckled in,” she said. “And they are on the speakerphone announcing the bidding is going up.”
“They started at $1,500, $2,000, then it went to $2,200, it just kept going,” Smith added, referring to the amount in airline credit vouchers being offered. “I looked over at my husband and I said, ‘You know, I really think that if they get to $4,000, I’m going to get off this plane.'”
Smith said when they announced a $4,000 credit voucher, “without a flinch, I pressed the flight attendant button.”
She adds that the competition was fierce, describing how “within a few seconds … the guy right behind me also pressed his button.”
“The flight attendants were like, ‘No, she pressed it first,'” she added.
Smith said as she exited the plane, “I felt like I was on a game show … everybody was clapping and cheering and smiling.”
Zach Klein, a reporter at local ABC News’ affiliate WSB-TV, was on board the flight and live-tweeting throughout the bidding process, and snapped a quick selfie with Smith as she deplaned.
This kind lady volunteered to get bumped.. for a 7pm flight tonight to South Bend.. for $4,000…
Not one fan wanted to get in late pic.twitter.com/gCOwFpz2Hf
— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) September 8, 2017
Smith’s account, which she called a “fun, pleasant experience,” comes at a time when the airlines industry has courted controversy for the treatment of passengers on overbooked flights. Earlier this year, video of a bloodied passenger being forcibly dragged off of an overbooked United Airlines flight went viral, garnering widespread backlash, and starting a nationwide conversation about what your rights are as a passenger.
Delta Air Lines declined ABC News’ request for comment Wednesday night.
Smith said she boarded a later flight and still ended up making it in time for the football game. She is still deciding what she plans to do with her voucher.
“At first I was like, ‘Me and my husband are going to go on a round-trip flight to Hawaii together,'” she said, but added her son protested that he wanted to come too. “I think we’re going to take the $4,000 and figure out a way that everybody gets to go somewhere together, and have a great time.”