American Airlines flight attendants are newly empowered to award frequent-flyer miles as compensation for in-flight problems that passengers encounter, CNN reports.

Previously, only gate agents and reservation agents were able to make such awards, typically to compensate for overbooked flights and delays or cancellations where the airline was at fault. Passengers who encountered in-flight problems were only able to submit requests for compensation in writing, in the form of a complaint.

The new airline policy allows flight attendants, at their discretion, to make awards of frequent-flyer miles on the spot. “We want the customer to get off the plane feeling good about their experience. It makes the customers feel good and it makes the flight attendant feel good,” said American Airlines spokesperson Ross Feinstein.

How many miles are awarded “depends on what the issue is, and its severity,” added Feinstein. Travellers who are not enrolled in the airline’s AAdvantage frequent flyer programme can fill out a form to receive other forms of compensation.

American Airlines flight attendants can award miles using the tablet computers they carry on board. Delta Air Lines flight attendants have had similar capabilities for several years, according to the airline.