American, Delta revive deal to handle stranded passengers
American Airlines and Delta are reviving a deal that lets them put passengers on each other's planes when travellers are stranded by disruptions such as winter storms and computer outages.
The new deal took effect on Wednesday. The airlines aren't disclosing financial terms, such as how much they charge to accommodate the other's passengers.
Both airlines and their passengers figure to benefit if the agreement means fewer travellers get stuck at airports.
Henry Harteveldt, a travel-industry analyst for Atmosphere Research Group, said if bad weather strikes a major hub airport used by
one airline, its connecting passengers could be rerouted through another city on the other carrier.
"This arrangement will help save travellers time and sanity when one airline is affected by a problem and the other is operating," he said.
American and Delta are the nation's two largest carriers. They stopped cooperating to handle each other's stranded passengers in September 2015. Delta complained that it was taking far more passengers who were rebooked from American than it sent the other way. Delta demanded a premium for the imbalance.
American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said neither airline will get more generous terms than the other under the new agreement.
The old agreement wasn't limited to bad weather or IT outages. It also let passengers book flights on both airlines under the same itinerary - with their baggage being transferred, too. That convenience is not included in the new deal.
The airlines wouldn't disclose how many passengers they rebook on other carriers when bad weather or computer outages cause flight cancellations.
Miller said American would try first to put stranded passengers on airlines with which it has stronger business ties - either members of the same global airline alliance or partners in joint ventures - but the Delta option "comes in handy."
Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant called the deal with American a "tool that will give our employees more options" to help customers.
American and Delta have similar agreements with United Airlines. Southwest Airlines does not have agreements to put its passengers on other carriers, a spokesman said.