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Is Pizza Fair Compensation for Flight Delays?

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Flight delays are an inevitable part of air travel. Sometimes airlines are at fault and sometimes they aren’t; either way, how an airline responds is what matters most to those on board. Today, TPG Contributor Robbie Harrell explains why some Delta passengers were recently given pizza for an unexpected delay, and questions whether a free meal is adequate compensation.

While automobile accidents can have catastrophic consequences, the majority of collisions don’t involve personal injury, and are no more than an inconvenience for drivers. In contrast, just about any type of plane accident sounds exceedingly grim, but with roughly 87,000 daily flights in the US alone, accidents are bound to happen, including those that equate to little more than a fender bender. This week we saw such an accident that’s all too common on the roads, but made national headlines because aircraft were involved.

A Delta 757 clipped the wing of a Compass Airlines plane at Minneapolis
A Delta Boeing  757 clipped the wing of a Compass Airlines plane at Minneapolis-St.Paul this week.

On Wednesday, Delta flight 2321 from Minneapolis to Los Angeles was making a routine movement out of its gate when it clipped the left wing of Delta Connection flight 5796 operated by Compass Airlines. While it’s rare that we see two planes collide while taxiing, the National Transportation Safety Board says (according to a Newsday article from 2012) that they have investigated 12 different incidents of planes clippings wings or other objects while taxiing since 1993.

Passengers shared what Delta was doing via Twitter.
Delta ordered pizza for delayed passengers, who took to Twitter to voice their appreciation.

As compensation for the delay, Delta threw a pizza party for passengers. While they may have won passengers over with food, in my opinion Delta dropped probably should have offered these passengers vouchers as well. For comparison, a voluntarily bumped passenger on Delta will receive $400 dollars in vouchers, sometimes with food and lodging, and that’s just for an oversold flight. In this case two aircraft actually collided, and while the delay may have been equivalent to getting bumped, I would expect Delta to give this incident equal or greater consideration.

Do you think serving pizza to passengers was an appropriate form of compensation from Delta?

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