Nowadays it’s becoming more commonplace for airlines to overbook. These companies then try to persuade some travelers to take a different flight due to filled seats. Throughout our years of travel, we’ve been approached many times to volunteer to be ‘bumped off’ but never agreed to it.
We typically book specific seats far ahead of time for our son with autism, and any deviation from the plan would be difficult for all of us, so we’ve always declined. Frankly, I always felt if something went wrong the few hundred dollars the airline would give us would be inadequate compensation for the stress and meltdowns.
This week we finally caved in and accepted the payment. The crew offered us one thousand dollars each to trade a direct flight to LAX- Orlando for a six-hour longer flight with Delta that included a stop. As a travel blogger, either way, I knew I’d have a story and valuable tips for my readers.
So, is the ‘Bump off’ deal Worth it?
The answer is, probably, but like with any deal passengers should listen carefully. Sometimes the crew rushes to get passengers off, and travelers might end up making a mistake. Anyone offered a deal like this should know the full details of the offer. They should be aware of the exact amount of money involved and the particulars of the voucher, such as the time it can be used and if it is transferable.
Direct flights are the most likely place for passengers to get a bump deal like this. We had great bulkhead seats, meaning our son would not disturb other passengers if he stimmed. We also, as mentioned, had a direct flight starting at nine AM and arriving in Orlando by five PM.
The crew enticed us to get off the plane after we were sitting in our seats. At check in I did notice mention that the flight was overbooked. The airline was looking for volunteers to take a different flight plan that stopped at Charlotte, North Carolina before going to Orlando. At the gate, the crew started offering four hundred dollars per person to those who would agree to fly at a later hour. When no one came forward, the price went up to six hundred.
We thought the issue was resolved, so we pre-boarded and proceeded to sit in our seats. That was when the crew started offering one thousand dollars per person in vouchers to get off and board the later flight, which we took.
The new itinerary set us back six hours and put us on two different flights on a different airline. We did not have status with or access to the airport lounge for this airline. Furthermore, the first airline couldn’t give us seats, so we were now thrown at the airline’s, Delta’s, mercy. They were under no obligation whatsoever to accommodate our family. Luckily, the staff was able to find our seats together on both flights at the end of the aircraft.
At the end of it all, we each got our vouchers to spend on United. Unfortunately, we could not transfer these vouchers to an affiliate airline. They expired within the year, and due to circumstances, we couldn’t use them at that time. However, I got them to extend the deadline by an entire year via booking a ticket and then canceling within twenty-four hours. So, all in all, this deal worked out for our family.
Autism Travel Tips:
- Parents who choose to switch flights should prepare their children both for the change and for the fact there will be more than one flight. For some children with autism, this might be the first time they have to take two airplane flights to get to a destination.
- Parents should bring plenty of entertainment for their kids, as the secondary flight is typically much longer.
- Parents should try to get a credit card that offers airport lounge access like Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve. However, they can also ask the airline bumping them for lounge access or food vouchers. We got lunch at any airport venue for free when we were bumped.
- Travelers should be sure to carry on few luggage items to make it easier to move from one flight to another.
- Parents should contact the hotel they’re staying at to let them know they will be late.
- The trip will come with some difficulties. Parents should focus on the reward vs. the present relatively small hardships.
- At the end of it all, travelers should get on social media and tell others about their experience. Thank companies for any accommodations they used to help your family or inform others if there was misinformation.