If you get bumped by the airline, you can fly free and get all kinds of other perks–if you play your cards right. So here’s what you need to know:
BEST CHANCE TO GET BUMPED: Monday, Friday, Sunday, Summer, and Holidays
WHAT TO DO: Tell the airline rep when you check in that you are volunteering to be bumped. Do not check luggage if you expect to be bumped or be prepared to catch up with your luggage later as it will be on the flight you missed. Stay close to the gate so that you can hear announcements. They will call your name if they need to bump you.
WHAT TO KNOW: Ge sure to get booked on another flight BEFORE you give up your seat. Be sure to ask for appropriate compensation. You want to be sure to ask for a cash voucher NOT a flight voucher. Got it? This is important. You have greater flexibility and can still earn miles on the ticket when you book it, but it may not be possible (depends on the airline). The average cash voucher is $400 continental U.S. and $1,500 international. If the flight they rebook you on is more than two hours later, be sure to ask for food vouchers. If several hours or next day, you need to get hotel and transportation vouchers too. Depending on how desperate the airline is for your seat, you may score a first class lounge pass and seat upgrade. Remember all this must be negotiated BEFORE you surrender your seat. You have no leverage once you have given up your seat, so get what you can beforehand. No matter what, be nice and respectful. You catch more flies with honey, right?
IMPORTANT: If you get bumped involuntarily, you still want to get a cash voucher and your ticket rebooked on the spot. Yes, the airline can bump you even if you have a legitimate ticket! Again, it is important to remember to be nice and polite to ensure that things work out right.