Things to Consider About “Bumping” From a Flight

If you are a frequent flyer, chances are you’ve run into a situation where your airline asks for volunteers to move to a different flight. You might only have seconds to make the decision (especially if the airline is offering big perks). Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to volunteer.

Schedule Conflicts

Obviously the first thing on your mind is whether the alternate flight you are being offered fits in with your schedule. Sometimes airlines have multiple flights each day to the same place. Other times there might be only one flight.

Weather Conditions

If you are being asked to bump off a flight and the weather conditions are iffy, you need to take this into consideration. Your later flight might get cancelled.

Checked Luggage

It is significantly easier to bump off a flight if you do not have checked luggage. Often times the airline will give preference to people who do not have checked luggage. By bringing carry-on only you are making yourself more flexible when it comes to changing flights.

Voucher Compensation

The first thing the airline is likely to offer is a voucher for future flights. If there are no volunteers they will likely increase the voucher amount until they get enough volunteers. Think about the voucher amount in comparison to the amount you paid for the flight. Traveling for business? Even better! Is a few hours of inconvenience worth a free spring-break flight or an extra trip home?

Accommodation Offer

If the change in your flights results in an overnight stay, find out what type of hotel the airline is willing to put you up in. Chances are they have a relationship with nearby airport hotels, which tend to be of decent quality. If you are extra adventurous ask the airline if they will up the voucher amount if you forgo the hotel.

Food Vouchers

If you are going to be spending a handful of extra hours in the airport, ask the airline for food vouchers. Food in airports is expensive and you don’t want to break the bank while you wait for your new flight.

Alternative Airlines

Be aware of the flight schedules for your airlines partner airlines. If the alternative they are offering you doesn’t fit with your schedule, ask to be moved to one of their partners’ flights. Sometimes this can mean flying a “better” airline.

On my recent flight from Chicago to Hong Kong, United was asking for volunteers to bump off of the overbooked flight. I was able to get a $800 United voucher and get moved to a Cathay Pacific flight that arrived in HK only one hour later. If you’re not familiar with Cathay Pacific, you might not immediately recognize what a step up that is! In addition, when I checked in with Cathay Pacific they gave me a free upgrade to premium economy because their coach was already full.

Have you ever had an experience bumping from a flight? What is the most you’ve ever been compensated for switching flights?


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