“Good customer service costs less than bad customer service.”
Airline Bumping: An Introduction
This blog was written before the COVID Pandemic. The COVID epidemics played havoc on the travel business. In 2022, Fifty Plus Nomad decided to focus on traveling and living in Mexico and language learning posts. We will only update these long-term travel-related posts on a time-permitting basis. We would appreciate your comments and updates on these posts.
Airlines routinely sell a few more tickets than the seats available on a given flight. Usually, this policy is acceptable because a couple of passengers do not show up for every trip. The flight crew occasionally has to kick off a passenger if every passenger shows up.
Airlines avoid this problem by offering an incentive for a passenger to take a later flight.- this process is called “voluntarily bumping”.. “Involuntary bumping” — denying boarding to some passengers even if they have a confirmed ticket — usually occurs only if no one voluntarily agrees to take a later flight.
If Fifty Plus Nomads travel enough, they will probably an airline representative ask for a volunteer to be bumped to a later flight occasionally. (I would guess about 5% of all the flights I’ve taken had to bump some passengers).
A bumped passenger is, according to the US Department of Transportation’s website, entitled to:
cash compensation, not just a voucher and a seat on a later flight. Bumped passengers whose travel is delayed for at least an hour are entitled to up to $1,350 in compensation, with the amount based on the length of the delay and the one-way price of the ticket.
Not long ago, United Airlines received bad publicity (justifiably) when it involuntary bumped a doctor off of one of its flights. (They also shockingly got airline police to physically drag the passenger off the plane!)
The rules to follow if you are voluntarily or involuntarily bumped are complex; however, I would recommend that Fifty-Plus Nomads consider volunteering to be bumped. No one in the press about United Airlines noted that many travelers volunteer to be bumped. Yet, it can be a good idea to be voluntarily bumped sometimes.
I volunteered to be bumped three times and received credit toward a future flight all three times, I only had to wait an extra hour or two for the next available flight, and I got a free flight for my time.
While I have never set out to be bumped, I have known people who try to get “bumped” on every flight. Read more about this from Johnny Jet.