It can be a traveler’s worst nightmare: getting bumped from a flight. You have a meeting to attend, you’re the maid of honor at your best friend’s wedding or you just simply want to get home after a long, arduous trip.
A recent article in the (London) Telegraph tells the real-life story of a three-year-old getting bumped from an overbooked flight. According to the article, airlines often oversell flights on the basis that passengers might not turn up at the gate.
In the end, the ticketing agent juggled some things and the cabin crew asked passengers to switch seats so the child could sit with her family.
This is an extreme case, of course, but it shows geting bumped can happen to any of us.
Typically, those who are bumped are willing volunteers and offered another flight or some sort of compensation or upgrade. Compensation depends on a few factors such as the length of the delay or the distance of the flight.
Frequent flyers are less likely to be getting bumped, so the first preventative measure would be to sign up for the airline’s loyalty program, even if this is your first and only flight. Another way to decrease your chances would be to fly during off-peak hours. Choose early morning flights — those where people would rather sleep in than traverse an airport — over afternoon and evening ones.
It also helps if you select your seats early: upgrade to the economy plus section (or early/preferred boarding if you’re a Southwest Airlines flier) and choose your seat early on. If you buy your tickets through a discount-ticket service, you may be more likely to get bumped, but you can even help your chances there if you check into your flight 24 hours before departure.
To do that, download the airline’s app and set an alarm for that 24-hour mark. That way, you can check in right at 23:59:59 and get a seat. The people who get bumped are often the ones who wait until they get to the airport to check in. If a flight is overbooked and everyone else has checked in weeks, days, or even 24 hours in advance, guess who’s going to get bumped.
You can decrease your odds of being bumped on your next flight if you just plan ahead: upgrade your seats, check in early, and don’t wait until the last minute. But try to be flexible in your plans in case something does go wrong and you find yourself being delayed because of a problem.
Have you ever been bumped from a flight? What were the circumstances? What did you do to work around the problem? How do you avoid gettinb bumped? Tell us the story or hints on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.
Photo credit: Michael Ocampo (Flickr, Creative Commons 4.0)