Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bidding on Bumping: An Innovation from Delta

The airline bumping game has just acquired a new wrinkle.

Delta Airlines has instituted a program that asks travelers how much they'd accept to be bumped from their flight when they check in online or at an airport kiosk. A note on the page explains to passengers that Delta will be accepting the lowest bid, giving flexible travelers incentive to underbid their fellow passengers.

The airline is saying the new system will help passengers by significantly reducing delays as it will allow gate agents to more efficiently find volunteers to be bumped when a flight is overbooked.

But the real winner will be Delta which will likely have to pay out much less for bumping passengers than they have in the past. My guess is that inexperienced travelers will accept much lower pay-outs than those flyers who have gamed the system in the past to make a bit of money from these bumpings.

So what to do if you get asked how much you'd accept to be bumped? Never accept a voucher for future travel. That puts you into the same bucket as all the frequent flyer members, and we all know how difficult it can be to redeem miles nowadays. Instead ask for cash. How much you ask for is a personal decision, though if you want to stick it to the airline remember that it will have to pay $400 to $800 if it has to bump a passenger who doesn't give permission.

It seems like a no-brainer that other airlines will likely adopt this policy. So start your strategizing! What bids are you willing to accept?

1 comment:

  1. Just call it gambling at the gate! Lol. I agree other airlines will follow. Thanks for sharing.