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US airlines have become rather sqeamish about involuntarily bumping passengers ever since United Airlines was lambasted by the public after the Chicago police dragged a semi-conscious passenger off one of its planes earlier this year so that the airline could instead puts its own employees in the seats. However, on Friday, Delta took being cautious to the next level when it paid $4,000 in compensation to get a single passenger to give up her seat on a flight less than two hours long, all while still making it to her destination later the same night.

Delta Flight 874 was scheduled to depart at 9:45am from Atlanta (ATL) to South Bend, Indiana (SBN). At first blush that might not seem like a terribly popular route, but this weekend the Georgia Bulldogs will play football against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for only the second time ever. Which means for certain University of Georgia fans, right now it’s either South Bend or bust.

The aircraft, an MD-88 with 149 total seats, was overbooked by one passenger, and so Delta began asking for volunteers and offering compensation. After the United incident in April, Delta changed its policy so that front line agents can offer up to $2,000 in compensation to volunteers. But when a supervisor gets involved, the limit is as high as $9,950.

So according to Zach Klein, the Sports Director of WSB-TV in Atlanta (who was also on the flight), when no one wanted to get off the plane, the price quickly climbed…

And climbed…

And climbed…

Until Delta finally hit the magic number for one Tracy Jarvis Smith, who will still get into South Bend nearly 24 hours before kickoff but with her purse just a wee bit heavier than before…

Fortunately for Ms. Smith, “last call” in the great state of Indiana is 3am, so she’ll still be able to squeeze in at least six hours of… well, let’s call it “pregame prep” before catching some sleep. Congratulations to Ms. Smith, and of course, the first round of drinks is on her.

H/T: View From The Wing

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