Getting bumped from your flight is always at the back of every traveller’s mind as we wait at the gate. But there are strategies and tips that can help you avoid this annoying situation. Here’s what travel industry pros have to say.
Think of all the things that can go wrong with your flight booking. From luggage being too heavy at check in to flights being cancelled; it’s a stressful process.
I even had my entire flight route cancelled once – not just that one flight, the whole route. I found out as I tried to transfer and discovered the flight company hadn’t told me they’d canned the route a couple of months earlier.
Thanks to United Airlines and their fateful Flight 3411 where they forcefully bumped a passenger to make way for crew, the thought of getting bumped from your flight is more of a worry for travellers than ever.
However, global luxury travel agency network Virtuoso have conducted a survey with their agents to find out the best ways to avoiding, mitigating and making the most of getting bumped from your flight.
How to avoid getting bumped from your flight – intel from the pros
Prevention and mitigation
- Establish status with a specific airline and fly it or within its alliance partners whenever possible.
- Reserve seat assignments as soon as the flight is booked.
- Check in online 24 hours before the flight to reconfirm seats.
- Avoid sitting in the very front or back rows of Economy Class as these seats may be displaced in the event of an equipment downsize on domestic U.S. flights. The last row is often reserved for families travelling with small children as well.
Making the most of it
- Insist the airline rebook the next available flight, even on another airline.
- Comply with the request, but politely ask for more compensation than what the airline is offering.
- Contact your travel advisor or agent for assistance.
- Ask for a credit card-issued gift card instead of an airline voucher, especially if you’re not a frequent traveller.
It’s also a good idea to negotiate terms and get something in writing before you leave the plane, as things become trickier once you’re off the flight.
As part of this survey, Terrie Hansen, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Virtuoso, also explains why travel agents are so useful in situations like getting bumped from your flight:
“One of the key reasons we recommend booking with a professional travel advisor is the consumer advocacy they provide. With travel it’s not a matter of if something will go wrong, it’s when – there are simply too many variables that are beyond anyone’s control.
“Having an advocate with a vested interest in the success of the trip is invaluable. It might not prevent the situation from happening, but it’s certainly reassuring to know there’s a knowledgeable and well-connected expert to call and help fix it.”
Airlines gambling on no-shows and cancellations so they have full flights means there’s always a potential for getting bumped from your flight. Hopefully these tips will arm you with ways to stop or at least be properly compensated and represented if it does happen to you.
Thankfully getting bumped happens very rarely – and I doubt the extremes of the United flight will be seen again anytime soon.
If you like this post, you’ll love our 37 tips for how to fly in style.
Have you ever been bumped from a flight? Do you have any other advice for people worried about getting bumped? Tell us in the comments below!