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  • Writer's pictureJessie Ladipo

How to Bump Proof Your Flights

Photo by Erik Odiin on Unsplash

Ever wonder why people get bumped from their flights? One word: Overselling. Yes, airlines are allowed to oversell their flights by 10%. So if your plane has 150 seats, Delta can sell tickets to 165 people. WTH and Why? Because jet fuel is costly, and airlines don't want to send planes out half full. So they oversell the flight thinking that a few people will either miss or cancel altogether. But what happens when everyone shows up? Well, the airline has to bump passengers. There is no way to ensure that you aren't the person hit, but I do have some tips that will help.

  1. Upgrade your seats. You don't have to do necessarily have to do First or Business Class, even upgrading to Premium Economy will help. You get a little extra legroom, and you are less likely to be bumped if you have paid for an upgrade.

  2. Pre-register ASAP. Do the online check-in as soon as it becomes available. Airlines are less likely to bump someone who already has an assigned seat.

  3. Arrive early. Airlines recommend arriving one and half hours before domestic flights and 2 hours before international. If you are traveling in summer to a trendy destination, I recommend arriving 3 hours early. Planes fill on a first-come, first-serve basis, so even if you are on time, you can be bumped if everyone else is already there.

  4. Remember the Golden Rule. Desk clerks have a lot of power, and yes, they will bump someone being rude over someone else who is kind and considerate.

  5. Utilize airlines that don't involuntarily pull passengers from flights. For instance, Delta will offer a sweeter deal for a guest that volunteers to take a later trip than Spirit Airlines will. Therefore, Delta doesn't have to pick people to bump to a later flight as often. JetBlue doesn't overbook, so their record on bumping passengers is excellent.

  6. Do NOT book a basic economy fare. There are many reasons why the lowest class of seats is an awful idea. But when you book basic, you cannot pick seats; airlines assign them when you arrive. Already having them attached will go along way to keeping you from getting pulled from the flight. Also, the people that paid the least amount often get the ax first!

  7. Have airline status. Even if you don't fly, often sign up for the airline's reward program. They are less likely to involuntarily bump passengers who are members.

  8. Connect your reservations with family members. If you fly with a group of friends or family, let the airline know that the individual bookings are related. Airlines usually do the utmost to keep groups together.

  9. Board as soon as the ticket agent calls your group number. If you are off at Cinnabon, they might think you are a no show and give your seat to someone flying standby.

  10. Try to avoid flying at peak travel seasons (think significant holidays) and peak travel days. The least busy days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Planes are less likely to be oversold these days.

  11. Try to avoid booking the last flight of the day. Even if the plane isn't full, you might have to compete with guests that bumped from earlier trips.

  12. Try to avoid connections. A nonstop flight might not be an option, but take the most direct route to your final destination. More planes mean more opportunities for problems to pop up.

  13. Splurge on First or Business Class seats. Airlines rarely oversell First Class, and they hardly ever bump passengers from First or Business.

I know how much being bumped from your flight sucks. (I will never fly out of La Guardia again!) There is no way to 100% guarantee that you won't get pulled from your flight, but these 13 tips will help you bump proof flights.

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