LANSING, Mich. - How much is your airplane seat worth? Not $10,000 for at least one Delta passenger who passed up the offer on a recent flight.
Jason Aten, 42, of Lansing, Michigan, said he and his family were flying from Grand Rapids to Minneapolis, Minnesota, on June 27. They were headed to Anchorage, Alaska, for a two-week RV vacation.
"We had boarded the flight and the flight attendant came over the PA and announced that they were looking for volunteers who were willing to give up their seats for $10,000," Aten told FOX Television Stations. "At first, everyone thought it must be some kind of mistake. Then, she made the announcement again, and added ‘if you have ApplePay, you’ll even have the money right now’."
Aten said some passengers thought she meant frequent flyer miles at first instead of cash.
Regardless, Aten and his family chose to stay seated. He said he had eight members in his party, and it wasn’t clear how many volunteers were needed to give up their seats.
"It definitely happened pretty quick, and separating a family with four kids isn’t as easy as it might seem," he added.
Ironically, the flight attendant announced the airline was looking for eight volunteers. However, Aten said by that time, at least four people took the offer. He added some other eager passengers ended up declining the offer because Delta wouldn’t be able to accommodate them for several days.
But Aten said he doesn’t have any regrets about not taking the money, even writing about it in his online column.
"It was never our money to begin with," he continued. "Sure, $10,000 per person is a lot of money, and anyone can start spending that in their head, but we had a once-in-a-lifetime vacation."
However, he said if he were to get a second chance, he would do things differently.
"I think we’ve all agreed that if it ever happened again, we’d be the first ones off the flight," he added.
FOX Television Stations has reached out to Delta Airlines for comment. However, in 2017, the airline did acknowledge its willing to offer a hefty cash offer for passengers to give up their seats.
Overselling flights is a fact of life in the airline business. Industry officials say that it is necessary because some passengers don't show up, and that overbooking keeps fares down by reducing the number of empty seats.
According to TIME, the amount airlines are willing to pay has increased the year but by law, the compensation rate typically varies between $775 and $1,550 depending on the price of the traveler’s ticket and the length of the delay.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.