UPDATED 2/17/2017 Flight bumping is popular during busy travel times. Don’t take the first airline travel voucher offer, because there are ways to cash in.
How to get the most from flight bumping
If an airline asks for volunteers to skip the scheduled flight and fly at a later time in exchange for a travel voucher, you may want to think about the offer.
1. Research flight alternatives
Consider your flight alternatives. Will you have to wait a long time to arrive at your destination? Sometimes the difference is only an hour.
Consider how much your time is worth. A five-hour delay may not be worth the travel voucher, but a one hour delay may be worth the wait.
2. Refuse the first offer
Some travelers will take the first offer, however, you should wait. They likely need multiple passengers to give up their seat.
As more time passes, the airlines get desperate. The offers jump quickly.
The first offers used to be free airline tickets. As a poor college student, I took a few of those. These days, no more free airline tickets. The vouchers have a cash value.
I think travelers are less tempted to bump because the payoff is not worth it. Often it means connecting through other cities, a much later arrival time, and you often don’t get enough money to cover the cost of your flight.
I recently watched an airline sweeten the pot $100 at a time when nobody took the first travel voucher offer. The airlines get desperate and will do anything.
I wouldn’t settle for anything less than the price you paid for your airline ticket.
Involuntary flight bumping
Know your rights if you are involuntarily bumped. Ask for the maximum compensation. If you arrive at your destination a few hours late because of an oversold flight, you’ll get twice the price of your ticket up to $650. If the delay is longer, you’ll get four times your ticket or up to $1,300.