Getting Bumped From a Flight (When to Volunteer and When to “Just Say No”)

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Yesterday Points With a Crew posted about refusing a possible $1000 in travel vouchers to not get bumped from his flight. To which my initial response was “NOOOOOOO!”

luke skywalker noooooo

But after reading his post and further discussion on Twitter I understood his reasoning.

Obviously, if you’re traveling for business you usually have to be someplace by a certain time and you don’t have a lot of flexibility with your plans. Or if you’re on vacation and have to be back at work by a certain day/time. But what about when those things don’t apply to you?

I don’t hear Spirit offering to compensate people to give up their seats very often, but I did hear them offer it on my last flight to Vegas. Even though I think I could have gotten bumped and still been on time, the offer wasn’t enough to tempt me. They offered a voucher for a ticket instead of a specific amount of money. Had they said a specific dollar amount to be used on a future Spirit flight I would have considered it. The offer of a round-trip ticket was too vague for me given I can purchase some of their round-trip tickets for $42 (DFW to Denver) and even $75 round-trip can get us to Florida and back (DFW to Tampa).

There was a time I had to resist the offer of getting bumped because of our schedule and it still pains me to this day. I was on my way to Florida with the kids and American Airlines was offering at least $200 per person, and it may have been as much as $300 per person to get bumped only three hours. This was a few years ago so my memory’s a little fuzzy on the exact amount. They needed 4 or 5 volunteers and there was three of us flying together that day. $600 – $900 is a lot of money for only a couple of hours of inconvenience. However, I was flying out to drop the kids off with the grandparents, and I was flying back home the next day. In this case it was going to cut into the time I built in to visit with my parents, who were also doing us a huge favor by taking the kids for a week.

The last time I remember getting offered $500 per person to get bumped off a flight was Labor Day weekend in 2001. By October the airlines dropped prices and were offering incentives like crazy to encourage people to fly again so we were able to use them to fly to Germany.

I miss the days where it seemed like every flight we went on was offering people vouchers to get bumped. Which makes it even more painful for me when I can’t volunteer on the rare occasion it happens.


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Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.


  1. Lynn

    October 9, 2014 at 12:17 am

    I still get mad that I could not take a $800 bump on an international flight to India a few years ago for work. I had to be at work on Monday in New Delhi so there was no way for me to accept the offer for a flight the next night.

  2. Points With a Crew

    October 9, 2014 at 12:43 am

    Thanks for the link! It certainly pained me not to take it, but I still think it was the right thing to do.

    I still think that you could make somewhat of a “business” of just constantly getting bumped.

  3. tortellini

    October 9, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    feb 2014 I was offered 700 USD for taking the next flight (MIA-CUR). It was perfect since all I had to do was waiting for 4 hours. Since I had no checked in luggage it was good for AA as well I guess.

  4. Lauren

    October 9, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Got an $800 bump in 2010 on Christmas Eve, traveling from IAD to Puerto Rico via IAH. $800, right off the bat, no work up to it. Crazy. Also just got $500 each (me + partner) over Memorial Day, ABQ – IAH – IAD. They rerouted us to DEN and we only got in two hours later — to DCA. Which is a way better airport for us.

    Hm, maybe I should fly through IAH more…

  5. Chandra

    October 11, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    be forward when an airlines offers you money but you end up on a better flight. you many not get the money in the end. We were going DIA-SAN-LAX-HNL. They first offered $100 each and we finally caved for the discount at $300 each ($600 total). Because we were moved to a flight that was DIA-LAX cutting a leg out and still able to make our final flight we were told “sorry but you dont get the money its win-win you have one less leg to take and still get in on time.” of course this is after our flight had left otherwise we would have said “nevermind we dont want to help you out.” because after all we were in it selfishly for the money. we should have known when they didnt put a price on the signature thing before we signed it. Of course had we volunteered when they offered only $100 a person we coulda gotten on the direct DIA-HNL before it left and that totally would have been worth not getting paid for as it would have SHORTENED our travel day 7 hrs

  6. Chandra

    October 11, 2014 at 6:10 pm


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