Flights that go bump in the night


Taking a “bump,” aka Voluntary Denied Boarding compensation, is one of those things in travel that is very much a polarizing topic.  There are plenty of people out there who would never consider accepting a delay – they just want to get where they are going.  And then there are people like me.  I love the bump.  Assuming I have time to deal with it, I’ll take it every time.  I’ve jumped over people’s extended legs to get to a gate agent to volunteer.  I’m just that eager.  Having the vouchers for future travel means my next adventure will always cost a little bit less, and since I’m usually planning that next trip having some voucher cash in my pocket is a good way to start planning.

When I booked my flight home from Jacksonville to LaGuardia for last night I wasn’t really planning on getting a bump.  The flight seemed to have plenty of seats and the fares weren’t all that high.  Still, when I did the online check-in Sunday afternoon for the 7:45pm flight the Delta website popped up a notice that they were potentially looking for volunteers.  My mind started racing with alternate routings and various options.  Ultimately I realized that the bump would also require an overnight in Jacksonville.  No big deal for me as I was going to have plenty of options available for the early flights home on Monday morning and still get to work on time, and Delta would spring for the hotel.  That came in very handy in the end.

After going through the check-in and then the security screening we wandered into the SkyClub lounge for a drink.  And I asked if they were looking for volunteers.  The agent was nice enough to call over to the gate and 10 minutes later I was looking at my $400 travel voucher and a confirmed seat on the flight out at 7am the following morning.  We had a nice chat as she was processing everything and I was even able to finagle the hotel room at the Hilton Garden Inn, my favorite property at that airport, for the overnight.  I took all my vouchers (only $7 for dinner which was pretty pathetic) and we had a rather slow and not particularly delicious dinner at the Chili’s in the airport and then I headed out for the hotel, leaving my wife at the airport to head home.  Or so we thought.

About two hours later the flight was cancelled.  The weather in the NYC area messed up a whole bunch of things.  Fortunately I was able to grab the last seat on a routing back to NYC for my wife (though that ended up horribly delayed thanks to mechanical problems and an eventual emergency landing, so maybe it wasn’t so fortunate) and then she hopped on the hotel shuttle and came back to the room that Delta had already sprung for.  At this point we were up $400 and the hotel room as no one made it out that night.

By the time 6:15am rolled around and the agent was preparing for the 7am departure – my flight – I already knew that the flight was overbooked.  Again.  The cancellation the previous night pretty much guaranteed it.  So when I walked up to the counter and suggested that I’d be happy to take the Continental flight right across the hall that was leaving in 20 minutes the agent was ecstatic.  About 10 minutes later I had another $200 in vouchers as well as my ticket rebooked onto Continental as a full-fare ticket, meaning extra miles on top of everything else.  And I actually got home earlier than expected from the first bump.  Overall a very well played bump adventure, if I do say so myself.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

2 Comments

  1. It seems like everything went your way (maybe not your wifes) that weekend. Did you claim your Delta miles from your flight back to NY as well… they should credit you for them as you "tried" to fly them back.

  2. Yeah…I do still need to call that in, though my original plan was to credit the points to CO anyways so they may balk at it. No worries either way. It is a hair over 800 points and I'm quite certain I'll be getting many, many more using the $600 in vouchers.

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