Going Once, Going Twice, Not Going for $150!

by on January 4, 2011 at 11:06 am in Economics, Travel | Permalink

Auction
I love that it says, "Tip: Delta accepts lower bids first."

Hat tip to Jim Ward.

Ken Houghton January 4, 2011 at 7:19 am

Great. Skew your schedule and make you feel as if you undervalued your time ("left money on the table") at the same time!

Minimum bid should be the change penalty and fare difference they would charge if you wanted to make the change. Otherwise, you'll encourage them.

Andrew January 4, 2011 at 7:30 am

This should be just before the TSA station.

Greg January 4, 2011 at 7:42 am

I wonder what the highest bids they accept are? I'd love to put in $1000 given that I usually don't volunteer at the usual rate.

mravery January 4, 2011 at 8:11 am

Ya, a friend of mine was telling me she got a prompt like this in an email from Delta the day before her flight. (It was right after all that hubbub with the East coast storm over the holidays.) It strikes me as odd that they don't ask for this kind of information up front if they know there's a strong chance for a delay. Anyhow, it's absolutely the right system to do it with, and if people are honest, you end up with the the most efficient bumps both in terms of utility lost from inconvenience and cost to the airline (which, if we believe in a perfect marketplace, means lower overall fairs for everyone). Clearly, everybody wins. :-)

Daniel January 4, 2011 at 9:25 am

Max bid is $400, it wouldn't let me bid more.
They could probably get lower bids if they could accept bids before people went to the airport. But of course, they can't be certain at that point that they'll need to bump anyone.

zbicyclist January 4, 2011 at 10:13 am

If they were serious, they would tell you what flight they will book you on if you are picked.

Jeff January 4, 2011 at 10:45 am

If the bid you enter is not contractually binding, does it really matter?

DaveL January 4, 2011 at 11:51 am

Doesn't this system give the company an advantage, assuming the gate attendants pay attention to it? Previously the system was a public auction, where the attendant said, "We are offering N people $X to give up their seats." The passengers could hold out, or assess the mood, and otherwise have better information on what their seats were worth to the airline. With this silent auction, they can't do any of that.

LemmusLemmus January 4, 2011 at 1:01 pm

"compensation for volunteering"? Them behavioralists at it again, eh?

Andrew Alexander January 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I took an oversold Continental flight from Newark to Geneva a few weeks ago. A few hours before the flight, the gate agent offered a $400 travel voucher (+hotel, etc.); half an hour later, it went up to $500, then $600, and finally the last announcement was for $700.

Jay January 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Note to "progressives": If you want to increase the supply of something you need to compensate people to give up their tickets, I mean organs. We've had enough of your regressive policies.

Paul N January 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm

I have been on an "overweight" flight (ERJ 135) where the attendants said someone had to get off after everyone had boarded. They offered $400 but no one was getting off. We sat there for over 40 minutes while the flight attendants pleaded, until finally someone agreed. I didn't know then, but learned later, that the airline was breaking the law, since they must force people off the plane if no one takes the offer, rather than hold the passengers hostage. Several people missed their connections because of it.

Roy January 5, 2011 at 4:33 am

I once got forced off a ERJ 135 and they rebooked me on another flight which bumped me and it took me 4 days to get from Houston to SFO. I will never give up a seat again even if they offer me a "guaranteed" seat on the next plane.

John David Galt January 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Tickets for each order flight should be numbered in the order sold, with the lower numbers having the right to keep their seats. Then if a plane holds 300 and I'm offered ticket number 342, I can try changing to another flight or another airline to make sure I have the right to fly.

(Then again, it's all pretty meaningless when TSA can steal your flight for "bad attitude" and pay no compensation. Which is why I no longer fly.)

anontrol January 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm

> Max bid is $400, it wouldn't let me bid more.

Well, there's your answer right there; stick a post-it note up on the machine to that effect.

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