If you’re not on a tight schedule, getting bumped from a flight might be a nice treat for you. Many times, bumped passengers may be offered several hundred dollars in cash or flight vouchers, meal vouchers, and/or hotel accommodations for the night. With the advent of airline-specific apps, some airlines have begun to allow passengers to volunteer and accept bumps for oversold flights directly through the app. This is a good attempt to mitigate the chaotic volunteer process at the gate and to potentially find available volunteers ahead of time. Here are a few of the participating programs and how to use them to volunteer for a bump.
As of this month, electronically volunteering for bumps has become available for all three of the major domestic US carriers. However, American Airlines has just released an app-based volunteer system and seems to be moving quickly to find more efficient solutions to reduce oversold flights and expedite processes airside.
If you’re booked on an AA flight and have the AA app, you’ll be able to bid for compensation (up to a maximum) if you are bumped. Essentially, you get to tell American Airlines what amount of compensation would be worth it to you. If you are selected, however, it isn’t incumbent upon you to accept their offer; you’re not locked in once you make a bid, but you are on the list should you choose to accept.
As of May 16, American Airlines has also begun compensating volunteers automatically through the AA app in the form of an eVoucher. If you happen to be booked on an oversold flight, you may be notified of that when you check in. The notification will provide options for alternative itineraries as well as the value of the eVoucher available to you, should you choose to accept the offer to be bumped.
If you accept the offer and confirm your new itinerary, the eVoucher will be credited to your account almost instantly. While American Airlines continues to roll out this feature, it’s interesting to think about the competitive bidding process and how it’s essentially erased by the simplicity of eVouchers. As of now, it seems like these eVouchers are an all-or-nothing offer that you can either accept or not. It’s possible that you could get more out of American Airlines at the gate or by bidding through the app and waiting, but it’s a matter of how much you’re willing to sacrifice for the effortless eVoucher credit. However you decide to handle your overbooked flight, be it bidding or accepting an immediate eVoucher, the process has been made dramatically simpler through the app and hopefully, American Airlines will be able to install similar features at check-in kiosks at airports.
United Airlines has been managing overbooked flights through the UA app for a little longer than American Airlines, but the process is similar. If your flight is overbooked, you’ll be able to find out when you check into your flight via the app.
The UA volunteer bidding process is completed through a well designed, user-friendly interface. When UA alerts you that they’re looking for volunteers, you’ll be able to put yourself on the list by choosing a bid option that works for you. You’ll be able to manage your status on the volunteer list by low- or high-balling the amount of cash you’d accept to be bumped, and you can even enter a custom amount because often the cash increases in increments of $100.
Not only will you be able to select your compensation in cash, but you can also opt to accept compensation in the form of MileagePlus miles. However, if you’re not looking to stock up on miles for any specific reason, it’s usually best to take the cash. Always pay attention to value; cash is worth far more than the number of miles they’re usually offering!
Although Delta hasn’t quite caught up to the in-app bidding process, it’s worth a mention because Delta has been allowing passengers to volunteer for bumps through its online check-in process for years.
Hopefully (probably) we’ll see an update from Delta that will include the option to bid and be compensated directly through the app. As Delta is famous for giving American Express gift cards as well as travel credit, it will be interesting to see how Delta caters its extensive compensation program to an app-based interface.
These improvements seem to align pretty well with today’s consumer habits; by allowing passengers to bid for bumps in-app or during the check-in process as American, United, and Delta all do, hiccups at the gate are far less likely to be an issue. Perhaps these advancements will result in oversold flights being a thing of the past because when problems are addressed while passengers are still carside, flights can run more smoothly and efficiently on the airside.
Have you taken a bump through the airline apps yet?
[Image Source: Pxhere]