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How To Get Bumped On Your Next Flight And Earn Hundreds Of Dollars

By now, we have all seen the viral video of the man dragged off a United Airlines flight in Chicago. Passengers were reportedly offered as much as $800, and ultimately no one would agree to be voluntarily bumped from the flight. I found it odd that with a plane full of passengers, that there were not four people happy to get bumped for $800. What might have made this particular case harder than usual, however, is that being bumped would have required an overnight stay in Chicago. Apparently there were no other flights available for the rest of the day. In any case, being the financial guy that I am, I thought I would take a little bit of a different look at this story. I wanted to find out how a person could raise their odds of being bumped and cash in on those fat travel credits. So, with a little research, here is what has found.

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 1. Travel By Yourself

You are more likely to be selected to be bumped from your flight if it is just you and not an entire family. Although it can happen, the odds of being bumped are much greater for individuals than groups of people traveling together.

2. Be The First To Volunteer

Experts say that the best approach is to be direct about it. Get to your gate early and volunteer to be bumped. It is also recommended that you grab a seat as close as possible to the gate agents to listen for announcements.


3. Travel With Just A Carry-On

One issue with being bumped is your luggage. The airline would potentially have to dig through all the bags on that flight to find yours and return them to you (in many cases your bag will simply stay on the flight and you will claim it when you arrive later). If, on the other hand, you are traveling with just a carry-on bag they won't have to go through all of that. So, be sure and let them know that you don't have any stowed luggage when you volunteer to be bumped.

4. Decide In Advance How Much It Is Worth For You To Be Bumped

You will have to make a quick decision, so decide what amount of money is enough and what amount of time you would be willing to wait for the next flight. By deciding this in advance, you will make the process a lot less stressful.

How much will you be paid for being bumped from a flight?

In many cases, it is a matter of haggling. The airline will typically start low and offer as little as a $200 travel voucher. If no one volunteers they will continue to raise the amount. You can earn as much as $1,350 for being bumped if certain conditions are met (you must have a confirmed reservation, and you must check in within thirty minutes of your flight). Some people love to be bumped and work hard to make it happen. I have even read articles suggesting online research to determine how close a given flight is to being sold out before buying your ticket. While I won't go into any of these more advanced strategies here, it is interesting to learn how far people are willing to go for a travel voucher. In some cases it can really pay off, here is an article about one family getting $11,000 in travel vouchers by agreeing to be bumped.

But, what if you don't want to be bumped? One of the best strategies is to make your seat selection early on, preferably at the time you purchase your ticket. Also, the odds of being bumped are much lower on early morning flights (as some passengers miss their flight due to oversleeping). In the end, however, your chances of being bumped are largely random, and based on a wide array of factors, including the weather.

If you have ever been bumped from a flight, tell us how it worked out for you. Use the comments section below and we can start a conversation.

Helping you make the most of God’s money!

James L. Paris
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