Delta and American Airlines agree to fly each other’s passengers during crisis

Power Outage Strands Delta Airlines Operations Worldwide
Travelers wait in line at the Delta Air Lines check-in counter at LaGuardia Airport on Aug. 8, 2016, after flights were grounded and delayed by a system outage. Delta and American Airlines have agreed to fly each other’s passengers during emergencies.
(Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Two of the world’s biggest airlines have agreed to find seats on each other’s planes for travelers stranded at an airport because of bad weather or a computer glitch.

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines cut a deal that allows each carrier to put stranded passengers on a flight with the other airline during emergencies. Travelers who are transferred between the airlines will have their luggage follow them.

“It’s a tool that will give our employees more options to reaccommodate customers whose flights are canceled during weather and other uncommon scenarios,” Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant said.

The two carriers previously had such an agreement, which is fairly common in the industry. But cooperation ended in 2015 when Delta complained that it was not benefiting from the deal and was being sent more passengers from American than Delta sent back.


Industry insiders say such an agreement could have helped thousands of passengers stranded in August 2016 when Delta had a computer problem that stretched out over three days.

The agreement to send passengers to a rival airline is voluntary and is reserved for use by airport ticket agents during emergencies and cannot be used by travel agents to help stranded passengers.

Neither airline would discuss the financial details of the deal.


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