Tracy Jarvis Smith could be the envy of everyone for weeks. On Friday, she received one of the highest-known compensations for an airline seat. She was paid 4 grand to wait a few hours for the next flight to South Bend, IN. That's a far cry from what happened to Dr. David Dao, who was beaten and forced off an overbooked United flight in April when he refused to give up his seat. Dao has since sued and settled with United (UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Report for an undisclosed amount. The incident sparked new policies at several airlines.
As images of a bloodied Dao hit the internet, Delta (DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. Report saw an opportunity to distance itself from the skirmish and boost its own bad reputation. In April it upped its compensation to passengers from $1,350 to as much as $9,950 -- hopefully in the form of cash, not travel vouchers -- to passengers who volunteer their seat on overbooked flights.
Smith gave up her seat to a football fan on a flight packed with other University of Georgia football fans who didn't want to miss the big Notre Dame game. So, Smith sold her seat back to the airline and arrived 8 hours after her initial flight, but says it was totally worth it.
Zach Klein, a sports director of WSB (ABC-TV) in Atlanta, who just so happened to be on the same flight, gave the play by play on Twitter.
It is common for airlines to overbook their flights, expecting a handful of no-shows. When this happens, gate agents or airline supervisors seek volunteers to take a later flight. The initial offer for the seat usually starts low, but rises incrementally until someone accepts the offer. Delta started its bidding at around $2,000. Smith says, at $4,000, it was an offer she could not refuse.
According to her Twitter page Crush Design, the interior designer plans to use the cash for a trip to Hawaii.
Way to go, Tracy Jarvis Smith!
More of What's Trending on TheStreet: