Getting bumped from an overcrowded flight is usually inconvenient and annoying—but it doesn’t have to be. Use it to your advantage by following these tips.
Don’t settle for the first “bump” offer
- You’re on an oversold flight, and the gate agents are starting to tempt passengers with $100 in flight coupons if you’ll agree to be “bumped” from your seat and take a later flight.
- Never accept the agents’ first offer. What they’re not telling you is that they have the discretion to give you even more money.
- Waiting patiently will be rewarded well during peak travel times, such as spring break or the Christmas holidays: other travellers will be less likely to want to get bumped when Grandma (or a warm beach) is waiting for them. Make sure you get what’s coming to you.
Bump yourself voluntarily
- If you want to reap the rewards of being bumped from your flight but the gate agents haven’t made the offer yet, here’s a way to make sure you get to the front of the line.
- If you sense the flight is overbooked, go to the agent and offer to be bumped before any announcement is made.
- How can you tell if a flight is overbooked? One frequent traveller recommends that you observe the gate agents’ body language. If they look harried, if there are weather problems at your destination or at the airport from which you’re departing, or if there seem to be a lot of people milling about, it’s a good time to start the bumping process.
Ask for a free lunch
- Who says you can’t get a free meal nowadays? Airlines don’t advertise this, but if you’ve been bumped from a flight, you can usually get a meal out of the carrier.
- As you’re being bumped, ask the gate agent if she’ll give you some food vouchers so that you can eat while you wait. Most of the time, the gate agents will give you and your party up to $25 in vouchers. These vouchers will be honoured at any restaurant in the airport. Not a bad deal for a few hours’ wait.