I Like Bumping!

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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.

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  1. It’s good when they offer sufficient compensation for crazy oversold flights.It’s demise is because they aren’t offering enough compensation and they are generally handling the situation more poorly then they did before. But I agree, volunteering to miss oversold flights is not a bad thing. Being forced when you have to be some place by a certain time definitely is. Being flexible is nice, but how do you handle the fact that your vacation is potentially cut short by arriving late when typically the flight is actually a small part of the cost of a vacation?

    • @Parkerthon – Many times I have been bumped for business trips, so it did not affect my vacation. For trips that involved a vacation, arriving only a few hours late has been well worth it for me. On some trips, I’ve even been able to get the airline to change my departure date to give me another day at my destination, so if being bumped significantly cuts into my vacation time, then I still make it up on the backend.

  2. Great story. Our family never flew together – but once I learned how lucrative bumping could be (say at an hourly rate) I was hooked. I too will be sad with less opportunities.

  3. Yes, and let’s put the blame for the demise of bumping right where it belongs: the airline industry. The incident on the United flight was a PR nightmare. Yes, you could say there was plenty of fault to go around. You could argue that the passenger should not have refused to comply with the officer of the law. You could argue that the officer(s) used excessive force. And you could argue that the airlines should not be forcing passengers off of flights (unless there is a situation that is dangerous.) But ultimately, if United just upped the dang compensation, someone (like people who read this blog) would have bitten. It’s called negotiation. Even though we’re told that around $800 was offered, experience shows that $800 in vouchers is not what it used to be. The goofy airlines give you only one year to use it, I think it can only be used for you and not transferred to others (maybe I’m wrong about that), and there are other irritating restrictions that at times has caused me to watch my voucher go unused! Customers are savvy and they can spot a shady deal. And, there are some times and some routes which are just not worth bumping. So up the voucher compensation, airlines! Make people an offer they can’t refuse. This is not rocket science. It’s called the free market. I guarantee if they went up to $1000 or $1,200, the incident never would have happened because someone would have taken the offer. And keep in mind, it’s not like United would be giving away $1,200 in cash. It’s a voucher for crying out loud. In most cases, it’s for a flight(s) that would have had an empty seat anyway. The airlines should take a hard look at who dreams up some of their policies. Fire them, and hire people who get it!

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