If you think airline vouchers are a travel myth, think again. Airlines have been known to give out airfare vouchers for all sorts of reasons, such as apologizing for poor service or missing bags. But you don’t have to become a habitual complainer to earn yourself a travel voucher – instead, you can simply volunteer to be bumped from your flight. Airlines often overbook flights in anticipation that a few flyers won’t show up, but if everyone does and the airline finds itself short a few seats, you can take advantage and earn yourself a few hundred dollars in airfare vouchers. Here are a few tips to help you score an airline voucher the next time you fly.
Be flexible in your travel plans
If you want to earn yourself a travel voucher for giving up your seat, you’re going to need a flexible travel schedule. After all, the next flight to your destination could be in an hour – or it could be the next day. If you’re traveling on business and need to make an important meeting after you land, volunteering to give up your seat probably isn’t the best idea, no matter how large the airline voucher. But if you can schedule some leeway into your itinerary, you’ll be free to wait for the next flight should opportunity come knocking.
Book popular flights
It goes without saying that half-empty flights aren’t going to be looking for volunteers to be bumped. If you can fly on a popular route at a popular time, though, you increase your chances of the flight being sold out – and possibly overbooked. Look for flights during peak travel times, like weekday mornings, Sundays or holiday weekends. These aren’t typically the cheapest days or times to fly (that designation usually goes to Tuesdays and Wednesdays, or at least flights scheduled for unpopular times of day), but they may give you an opportunity to earn a voucher.
Speak up early
Getting picked to be bumped from your flight is often a matter of first come, first served. Try to arrive at your gate early so you can be first in line to let the airline agents know you’re willing to be bumped, should they need a volunteer. Even if the gate agent isn’t sure if they’ll need volunteers, you can always ask to leave your name just in case. Don’t stray too far from the gate, in case the agents need to follow up with you.
The lighter your travel, the easier it is to remain flexible with changing travel plans. Traveling with carry-on bags only means that whether you get bumped or fly as planned, you’re sure to have all of your things with you. If you check a bag, you risk having your bags on a plane that you’re not boarding, should you be bumped at the last minute. Try to pack everything you need (or at least a clean change of clothes) in your carry-on suitcase so you’ll be good to go if you’re chosen as a volunteer.
(Main image: tosaytheleast)