Does a delayed flight help or hurt your bump chances?

I used to generally think that a delayed flight helps your bump chances, mainly because all passengers will show up. A delayed flight (theoretically) means less misconnects and less people missing the check-in cut off and being denied boarding.

After a flight this weekend I kind of changed my opinion on that, though. I was trying to standby for an earlier flight which was literally zeroed out for a week beforehand. All of a sudden it posted an hour delay, and it went from Y0 to Y5 (meaning they were willing to sell five seats), and this was a 50 seater RJ no less!

Therefore I feel that delayed flights will generally hurt bump chances, at least in most cases, because passengers may reroute to different flights due to anticipated misconnections.

There are some exceptions, though, like flights to non-hubs where there aren’t typically many passengers connecting onwards. If everyone is going home they’d likely stay on the delayed flight, up until a certain point. That’s also assuming there aren’t many frequencies where passengers could standby on an earlier flight, although that’s typically not the case for non-hub flights.

Just my two cents, and something to think about for those like me that (used to) get excited about delayed flights that were showing as packed.

Comments

  1. Yep, that’s been my experience. OTOH, if you’re on the adjacent flight, it can be real boon. If you’re on a nearly full BOS-DEN flight, and the nearby BOS-ORD flight gets delayed, the fun begins. In Feb, I was doing ORD-BOS on a flight booked even. Then ORD-MHT canceled. Up walks a GS to our gate. The GA bumped me and literally put the GS in my seat. Everybody wins….

  2. In my recent CLE weather delay, I noticed a lot of CLE-ORD passengers rescheduling their flight to the next day because of the misconnection. I think that would be a problem for any delayed flight to one of the hubs, especially a substantial delay or a lot of international connections which typically are just 1x/day.

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