How to Benefit From An Overbooked Flight

Did you know that airlines oversell flights as a strategy to maximize revenue and ensure full planes? Whether it’s because of traffic, changes in plans, missed connections, or last-minute cancellations, there are always people who don’t show up for their flights. More often than not, the flight is either undersold or the no-shows balance out the oversold seats. But every now and then, everyone does show up and the airline has an overbooked flight…and a dilemma.

This is when they’ll start asking for volunteers to relinquish their seats and take a later flight. If your travel plans are flexible, this is an excellent opportunity to get some cash and perks! Keep in mind that they may only need a few volunteers, so time is of the essence (you’ll often have to be at the gate so you can go to the counter in person.)

If you do choose to volunteer as tribute, here are three things to remember to maximize and negotiate compensation for an overbooked flight:

1. Ask for the same compensation as the final volunteer

Politely request that your compensation is the same as the final volunteer’s. It can absolutely change as the airline get more desperate, and you don’t want to be the first to settle for $100 and then find out the final volunteer got $1,000 for an overbooked flight!

2. Negotiate for more than just money

After that, don’t be afraid to negotiate for other perks! Airlines aren’t going to tell you what’s on the table, but you can absolutely ask for meal vouchers, hotel vouchers, access to airline lounges, and even seat upgrades (or a combo of any of those.) Remember: they need you to volunteer, not the other way around.

3. Don’t be afraid to walk away

This is a volunteer basis; you don’t have to relinquish your seat on an overbooked flight and their last resorts is to make you do so because they’ll have to pay you 2-4x the fare if they do! If you don’t feel the compensation they’re offering is worth giving up your seat, don’t do it. Withdraw your offer and walk away. (Desperate airlines may just give in to your requests at that point anyway. 😉)

I hope these tips help you if you ever find yourself in an overbooked flight situation. If you ever do successfully negotiate sweet perks from an overbooked flight, let me know about it!

Related Post: 5 Things To Know When Your Flight is Delayed or Cancelled

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