• Amanda

    Sometimes they’ll realize seats are available at the last minute. If that is the case, you are expected to board and should still get the compensation!

    Are you sure about this? I’ve volunteered twice in the past and in every case, the plane had room in the end and I was not offered the compensation. They just told me to board as usual.

    • Andrew (Admin)

      My experience has been that you can still sometimes get compensated in certain situations though this may depend on how nice they are at the counter. It might be something as little as them being more willing to bump you up to first class or something (which is big for me!). But of course you won’t get hotel vouchers and food vouchers as you’ll have no chance to use them anyways if you’re hopping on the plane.

  • http://personalfinancejourney.com Lakita (PFJourney)


    You are correct, that was something left over from poor editing on my part. I’ll ask them to fix it.

    If you volunteer, but then you are able to board your original flight you do not receive compensation. You can’t have your cake and eat it too!

    My apologies for the error! Thanks for catching it.


  • http://www.djkomputer.com dj komputer

    I guess I am not luckby because I was never offered to be bumped off to another flight. I fly out of JFK which is one of the biggest / busiest airports in US and it never happens to me :(

  • http://www.insweb.com Robert

    Hard to plan a vacation around a “maybe” flight, though, unless you’re flying by the seat of your pants. Good for you.

  • http://personalfinancejourney.com Lakita (PFJourney)


    It happens on some airlines more than others. I read in a report by Forbes that Jetblue bumps the least and Atlantic Southeast bumps the most. Though I don’t factor that in when I purchase tickets.

    @Robert: I don’t plan vacations around the maybe. I have at least 5-7 flights planned a year. These are already in my budget, so win I get free flight voucher, I put it towards the next trip and can put the cash I saved towards something else.

    When planning a vacation, factor the cost of the ticket in your budget…on the way home if your flight is overbooked you can stay an extra day and your NEXT vacation or flight is then free…again, you have a year to use your voucher.

  • dave

    This works on international flights as well. My wife and I go to Europe every year to visit family, and the first thing we do when we get to the airport is ask if they are in an overbook situation. We get bumped about 1/3 of the time on the trans-atlantic leg. While the compensation usually doesn’t cover the entire cost of a flight, it’s usually $500-$800 each; which combined covers the cost of one ticket. I’ve also found that the European airlines are a bit more generous and will generally put you in a very nice hotel and put you in business class on the next flight. But, you have to request it. Always be friendly and patient, and bringing a candy bar or coffee for the ticket agent doesn’t hurt either.

    Like the author, we plan en extra day to recover from jetlag, which is significantly easier to do when you have the comfort of business class on the way home.

  • http://wisefinish.com Wise Finish

    This is a great article about how to score a free flight. Hope to be able to do this soon!

  • Tom C.

    Make sure the airline is offering $$$ vouchers. A $200 voucher can be used on any flight to reduce your cost. Sometimes airlines give vouchers for “a free flight any where we fly in the continental US”. But then when you want to use it, it is not valid on the flight you want to take.

  • http://madsaver.com Mac

    Great reminder on scoring some free flights! I haven’t tried this for a long time and the last few times the flight was overbooked, there were a boatload of quick volunteers. I think this is the key quote you made “To ensure I am the first in line, I ask if a flight is overbooked as soon as I approach the terminal gate and offer myself as a volunteer.” I’ll be sure to do this on my next flight!

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