Scored my first bump of the year!

I tweeted just yesterday about my awful bump luck this year. Usually by this time in the year I’ll have scored a few “bumps.” For those of you not familiar with the term, that’s when airlines oversell flights and seek volunteers to “bump” off a flight in exchange for some compensation.

It’s funny, because today it happened when I least expected it. I’ve had at least a dozen flights this year that were booked out days in advance, but none ended up needing volunteers. Today’s Chicago to Tampa flight was different, as it was wide open just yesterday. I headed to the Red Carpet Club with over an hour to go until departure and passed by the gate briefly to look at the departure screen, as it contains a lot of information. I noticed that it indicated there were 19 passengers confirmed awaiting seats. That means 19 people were confirmed on the flight but didn’t have seat assignments yet. That’s a much higher number than usual.

I headed to the Red Carpet Club briefly and asked the agent if the flight looked like it might need volunteers. “No way, they’re undersold in first class,” she said. I moved on and that was that. I should have probably asked her to put me on the volunteer list anyway.

Then I headed to the gate with about 45 minutes to go until departure. In the meantime there was a gate agent there that was obviously overworked and even borderline rude, but I nonetheless approached him and asked if they might need volunteers. He indicated they already probably had enough, but offered to take my name anyway. I handed over my boarding pass and he noted I was a 1K. He immediately thanked my by name for volunteering and asked me to stick around the gate. As semi-rude as he was to other passengers, United does to a pretty darn good job taking care of their elites.

As boarding progressed the number of passengers “confirmed awaiting seats” continued to dwindle, and the gate agent called up several passengers and told them they could go ahead and board despite having volunteered. Eventually he made an announcement mentioning that three passengers (including me) should stick around for our bumps to be processed. Minutes later he called me up and processed my bump. So not only was I last to be added to the list, but I was first to be processed.

My compensation? Well, I got reaccomodated on a flight that will get to Tampa 1.5 hours after I was originally scheduled to arrive, with a “full fare” first class ticket (meaning no upgrade instruments required) and a free ticket good for a future flight.

This was a great finish to an awesome day of flying!

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Isn’t the problem with the free ticket — that you don’t earn miles on those tickets? That’s usually why you want a travel credit, no?

  2. @Lucky – We were connecting from DEN to TPA this weekend, both Friday and Sat (morning & afternoon) flights were oversold. They were offering free ticket, hotel, meal and F-class the next day. I asked if they needed volunteers before the announcement, they needed 4 and I offered our 3 seats, and the agent were thrilled. Then I politely said that I preferred travel credit, she was surprised and said she didn’t know how to process it. I mentioned that in the past, I have gotten $400 vouchers, she told me to wait and called the help desk. A minute later, she said, I can do even better, how is $600 sound? Awesome! $600 x 3. They must have been very desperate.

  3. @imm2b $600 is standard for over 6 hours (next day). The agent wasnt really doing you any extra favors (besides not being a pain in the ass when you asked for vouchers)

  4. In this case I would have gotten $200 in travel credits. I consider a free ticket, which could be used for a family member or friend when tickets are $500+, to be much more valuable.

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