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When to say yes (or no) to a bump

Increased holiday air traffic leads to oversold flights, which in turn leads to bumping. This winter, you may find an airline representative asking for volunteers to be bumped. Here’s how you should answer.

Say no if:

  • You need to be somewhere at a specific time. Even if that time is the next day, you don’t want to risk additional delays.
  • The airline can’t guarantee you a seat. Don’t take the bait if you’ll be flying standby or if the new flight is also oversold. You don’t want to spend several days at the airport.
  • You can’t benefit from the free ticket. Always ask about expiration dates and capacity controls. If a voucher is only valid for a year on select flights and your schedule constricts your ability to travel, consider walking away rather than accepting a gift you can’t use.
  • You need to shell out for a night in a hotel and a day’s worth of meals. A $200 flight voucher is no good if you’ve just spent $350 on food and lodging while waiting for your flight.

Say yes if:

  • Your schedule is flexible and you can afford to arrive a few hours or days late.
  • The airline can guarantee you a seat on a specific flight.
  • You can take advantage of the flight voucher or frequent flyer miles offered as an incentive.
  • The airline will pay for any meals, transportation, or hotel accommodations stay made necessary by your new flight time.

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