No, a stuck seatbelt on your Delta Air Lines flight doesn’t lead to a $5,000 windfall

Is a stuck seatbelt on Delta Air Lines worth $5,000

If you’ve ever been on an airplane, then you’re familiar with the “fasten seatbelt” sign. But what if your seatbelt won’t unfasten? Is a stuck seatbelt worth $5,000 in compensation? That’s what Delta Air Lines passenger Beverly Milne wants to know.

Milne encountered the stuck seatbelt in an exit row on a recent Delta Air Lines flight from Vancouver to San Diego.

Federal law requires flight attendants to ask the passengers in exit rows if they are ready and willing to assist the crew in the event of an emergency.

Trapped by a stuck seatbelt!

“My seatbelt unbuckled, but the tail portion of the left-hand side of the belt had crossed my lap and became lodged under a piece of metal on the right side,” Milne explains. “I weigh 135 pounds, so there was a lot of belt left over.”

Efforts to escape were to no avail.

I tried unsuccessfully to release the portion that was stuck so I tried to squirm out but couldn’t do that either.

I was trapped in the exit row!

My seatmate also tried unsuccessfully and called the flight attendant. I found it a bit amusing at first. But then I started to worry. She spent several minutes (basically on top of me) trying to release the cloth. She even said she’d never seen anything like that and should take a picture and would cut it if she had to.

A dangerous situation?

The Delta Air Lines flight attendant and Milne struggled for several minutes to release the stuck seatbelt. Milne says “several passengers” who walked by her row on their way out of the aircraft commented on “how dangerous that could have been.”

That made Milne wonder what would have happened to her had there been an emergency situation. She thought “passengers wouldn’t have been able to have gotten over me to get out of the plane,” and wanted to do something about it.

Contacting the CEO of Delta Air Lines

So she went straight to the top of the company contacts we list for Delta Air Lines — the CEO. We regularly advise people to start with the first contact we list, wait a week, and then escalate an unresolved case to the next person on the list, until you get to the top.

She soon received a response from someone at Delta. Maintenance crews had been on board the plane, and tried to replicate the problem, but could not, so all the seat belts in that row were replaced. The Delta representative repeatedly referred to the buckle malfunctioning, but that isn’t what happened, and Milne tried to make that clear — the problem was with the free end of the belt. Delta was still unable to replicate the problem, but it apologized and promised to share her story with both the inflight leadership and maintenance teams. Milne repeatedly asked Delta if it had interviewed the flight attendant or the passenger next to her, but the airline stopped responding to her

Delta Air Lines offers a $300 gesture of goodwill

Delta offered Milne $300 in “Delta Air Lines gift cards,” which she accepted. However, she didn’t think that Delta Air Lines offered enough compensation for the “several minutes” she endured, trapped by the stuck seatbelt. Since she started at the top of our contact list, she didn’t have anyplace else to go to appeal the company’s initial offer. She wrote to our advocacy team, asking if we would help her recover $5,000 for her trouble.

While we agree this could have been a safety issue in an emergency evacuation, there was no emergency and the only person inconvenienced was Milne. That inconvenience lasted only a few minutes, by her own admission. The flight attendant commented she had never seen this type of situation happen before, and the maintenance crews were apparently unable to duplicate the problem. I’ve flown over a million miles, and I’ve never heard of such a problem either.

To be clear, we don’t doubt that it happened. But we do believe that Delta Air Lines could not have foreseen this unusual stuck seatbelt problem.

Jumping on the “bandwagon”

I’ve written before about people jumping on the bandwagon of taking advantage of the recent bad press about how airlines have treated some customers and trying to recover as much money from the airlines as possible. While Milne didn’t ask for hundreds of thousands of dollars, as some have, and she hasn’t tried to sue Delta Air Lines, she didn’t convince us that a few minutes of inconvenience entitles her to a $5,000 windfall.

Milne informed Delta Air Lines of the issue. It apologized, made its maintenance and in-flight service teams aware of it, and provided Milne with a small compensation as a goodwill gesture.

In short, we feel Delta Air Lines handled this one correctly. Our executive director, Michelle Couch-Friedman advised Milne that the advocacy team would not be able to assist with her $5,000 request. Friedman suggested she post in our forums to see if our forum team or other readers had any suggestions for her. As of this writing, she has not done so, and we have closed the case.

Should our advocacy team have requested the $5,000 from Delta Air Lines for Milne?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend