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Growing up, my family usually went on two main vacations a year – December break and February break. I’d say almost 85% of the time we were bumped. Since we were traveling during peak peak times, getting bumped was pretty easy. There were even times that we got bumped multiple times in a row on just one segment of the flight. Typically our vacations were going down to Florida to visit the grandparents and from there we’d go on a few day getaway somewhere else within Florida. We were flexible with our arrival and departure dates. Being bumped was also one of the only excuses throughout the year my parents let me miss school!
I loved it. I thought it was exciting and thrilling. And if we were bumped I knew that it was a 100% guarantee we’d be going on vacation again the next year. We’d show up at the airport early, make sure to be the first person in the line to speak to a gate agent and put our names on the bumping list. My mom would even pack a “bumping” bag for us. Since we typically checked our luggage (back when luggage was free and I was too young to tell my parents to never check luggage), we needed something in case our luggage took off without us.
Due to some recent incidents, airlines are trying to scale back how much they oversell a flight. They also have much better technology in place today to predict how many people will not show. While JetBlue has been the only airline who would not overbook a flight, Southwest just put similar rules in place. As of May 8, 2017, Southwest will not overbook a flight. Of course, there will still be the need to bump a passenger off the plane due to unforeseen circumstances – mechanical issues, transporting pilots and crew members, etc.
I am actually sad to see the demise of bumping. I’ve been bumped a ton of times in my life and enjoy every second of it. Typically, my travel plans are flexible and getting a few hundred dollars to take a flight a few hours later (or even the next day) has been well worth it. There actually have been some situations where volunteering for a bump got me to my destination quicker! My most recent bump was a year ago when I quickly jumped on the option for myself, my husband, and my toddler daughter to arrive at our destination 3 hours later for $500 each. While it did require a layover in Philly and my husband to sit apart from us, $1,500 in vouchers then paid for us to go to London just last month! I’m a sucker for “making” money and was more then happy to miss half a day in Los Angeles.
Overall, I think bumping is good. It can keep ticket costs down and allows those with flexible plans to earn a voucher/money if they so desire. I’ve taken my fare share of flights in my life and have never personally seen a personal being involuntarily bumped. While it does happen, it is not often enough to fully do away with overbooking/bumping.