Getting bumped for compensation

Sometimes flights are oversold and the airlines offer compensation in exchange for staying behind and taking a different flight.  Although there is no sure way to take advantage of this, there are some tips which can help you increase your odds of being picked.  Compensation can sometimes be as high as $400-600 or more and could include meal vouchers or lounge access.   Typically the rate increases if there are no volunteers and also increases based on the time until the next flight.

Check the Seat Map

Upon check-in via the kiosk or on your mobile app review the seat map for available seats.  If you notice few or no seats available, your flight may be a good candidate for a bump.

AA has a good site to check seats.

 Pick Flights

This is not a guarantee either, but I’ve had luck on some of the frequently commuted business routes on Sunday afternoons  or Monday mornings.   Personally most of my bumps have happened on a Sunday afternoon flight.

Gate Action

Once you consider that your flight may be a good candidate for a bump and of course you are available to stay, get to the gate early and sit close to the gate attendant.   This way if and when they announce it, you are ready to take them up on it, although, you don’t always have to wait.  I have in a few occasions advised the gate agent ahead of time and it has secured me as the first pick volunteer.  Doesn’t always work and some gate agents are not too nice when you ask, but there isn’t much to lose.  Don’t pester or insist, just kindly advise that you are available if they need volunteers.  If they are open minded they are glad you notified them as it’s technically less work for them if they do happen to need a volunteer.

Oddly enough for me I’m usually more open to a flight bump in exchange for a travel voucher when I’m on the outgoing leg.  When I’m returning home many times I find myself tired and ready to get home hence unwilling to take compensation for a bump.

On my return from Barcelona they were offering a whopping $800 per person and free night in a hotel but only for 2 of the 4 in my party and I wasn’t willing to split up my family on an overseas trip.

Have some other tips or tricks to getting bumped?  What’s the most you’ve been able to get in compensation?



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2 Responses to Getting bumped for compensation

  1. Josh says:

    Southwest is such a good candidate for this. They need volunteers all the time… I’ve had a year’s worth of flights where one bump paid for the next, paid for the next, etc.

    I always let them know I’m volunteering ahead of time, and with Southwest at least they always seem to appreciate it.

    • travelguys says:

      Josh, definitely the way to go. When I don’t have the time pressure I always tell them I can volunteer. On the other hand I’ve been wanting to get home and have passed up on some nice SW vouchers, to the tune of around $400.

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