Pauper Travel

A blog dedicated to ultra-cheap travel. Based on my book "Travel Cheap-Travel Well!- Confessions Of A Travleing Pauper. You can learn how a Pauper travels like a King---all the time!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Getting Bumped For Fun & Free Flights!

I have found adventure in flying, in world travel, in business, and even close at hand... Adventure is a state of mind - and spirit.
Jacqueline Cochran (1910 - 1980)

Overbooking can be a Blessing

Is "overbooked" a dirty word?

Many people instantly would answer yes, of course it is---, and just as quickly wonder why such a stupid question is even posed. Overbooking often causes delays while the airlines sort out who is going to be "bumped" from their chosen, ticketed flight. Big, bad, uncaring airline computers are involved, too. Perfectly good travel plans are snuffed out.

But you should know that overbooking is now a business necessity and a beautiful opportunity for free travel.

· Why is Overbooking Here to Stay?

Each year, Dean Headley of Wichita State and Brent Bowen of the University of Nebraska-Omaha rate the ten major airlines for best service.
One of their 14 study criteria is denied boardings. They found the rate didn't really change between 1998 and 1999, despite plenty of negative publicity for the airlines, especially Delta.

Who is most likely to bump you?
· Delta, 1.53
· America West, 1.39
· Southwest, 1.38
· Alaska, 0.91
· United, 0.90
· TWA, 0.73
· US Airways, 0.52
· American, 0.43
· Continental, 0.34
· Northwest, 0.18

Source: Dean Headley and Brent Bowen

I want to show you the ins and outs of this overbooking and how you can take advantage of it.
The airlines constantly overbook. Why?

Why not? Profits are at stake. Empty seats are simply unacceptable. Programmers try to develop formulas that will overbook just enough to ensure a full aircraft while allowing for no-shows. That's a tricky task that no one has fully mastered.

It is profitable to overbook, even at the risk of giving away free tickets and overnight hotel rooms. A few freebies are preferable to ten or twenty empty seats on that flight from Japan to Los Angeles.

· Voluntary Bumping
You're not celebrating Granny’s 100th birthday. It's not New Year’s Eve or Christmas. Getting to your destination hours or even a day later is not the end of the world. Ask yourself if this, indeed, is your case. Yes? Then read on...

Tom Parsons is a travel expert who says he gets bumped roughly a dozen times every year. His article Getting Bumped For Fun and Profit lays out the basic strategy, and these words of wisdom: "some travelers consider overbooked flights a golden opportunity."

Parsons recommends starting the night before departure with a call to the airline or your travel agent (a list of airline contacts is at the end of this chapter). Ask if the flight is overbooked. An affirmative answer means you should be at the gate 90 minutes before scheduled departure. It's a bit early, but it usually guarantees you'll be first in line.

The Department of Transportation requires airlines to ask for volunteers before they deny a flight to anyone. You should make it clear that you're willing to be bumped.


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