How do I get bumped from flights more often?
July 15, 2010 1:14 PM   Subscribe

What are the days and times that have the best change of being bumped from a flight? I fly 3 or 4 times a year and am usually extremely flexible on what day (and time of day) I can book my flights, and it's usually not inconvenient for me at all if I can volunteer to be bumped to a later flight and get a $400 travel voucher.

My last flight was on a Thursday at around 1 from ATL to STL and I volunteered to be bumped to a flight that was about 2 hours later and I got the $400 travel voucher (which is extremely helpful for a poor grad student that has to travel).

Are there any days or times that have the highest likelihood of flights being overbooked and airlines needing to bump people? Personally, I tend to fly in and out of Atlanta most often, and prefer to fly Delta, but any general advice would be extremely helpful.

I tried some googling but a lot of the articles (here or here) seem to be 2 or 3 years old and light on the specifics on which days and times have the best chance of being bumped. If anyone knows of a recent article with specific advice that would be great.
posted by andoatnp to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The last flight out on Friday from a major business-travel city seems to work. I used to fly back and forth from Atlanta to SFO a few times per month, (and still do occasionally) and there were almost always voluntary bump opportunities on the 2PM Friday flight, for those who were willing to hang out and wait for the redeye at 11PM. I've seen the same thing while traveling to NY or Chicago as well - the later in the day you get on Friday, the more likely you are to be offered to be compensated for being bumped.
posted by deadmessenger at 1:18 PM on July 15, 2010

Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday afterwards. Late afternoon early evening flights on a business route such as ORD to LGA has good potential too.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:21 PM on July 15, 2010

Sunday afternoons and Friday evenings are probably the busiest travel days, in my experience. Those flights are always near-full.

I'm willing to bet that you'd get even better information if you asked this question over at FlyerTalk
posted by chrisamiller at 1:27 PM on July 15, 2010

Tangentially to your question: Once I arrive at the gate, I ask how full the flight will be. Regardless of the answer, I volunteer to be bumped. I make sure that they know that I'm really flexible with my schedule and it's no inconvenience for me to take a later flight. This is counter-intuitive to the "hold-out-for-a-better-offer" strategy I've heard before, but it ensures that you'll be the one who gets the offer if one is made. This tactic has provided a good handful of vouchers for me; YMMV.
posted by ChefJoAnna at 2:45 PM on July 15, 2010

As a side note, instead of a voucher, if you're in the mood for it (who wouldn't be), ask if you can get upgraded to first class. The one time I rode first class was for this. They made an announcement for volunteers, and I went to the counter and said I'd do it; it was only an hour wait for the next flight. I half-jokingly asked for a first class seat, and the woman at the counter smiled a bit, clacked away on her keyboard, and said, "No problem." Nowadays whenever I check in I automatically volunteer to take a later flight, I don't wait for any announcement.
posted by zardoz at 6:43 PM on July 15, 2010

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