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!