I have covered bumping quite a bit on the blog and on the rookie Wednesday posts. That information is all valid, but after my bump yesterday I really stated thinking about the process I go through when it comes to bumps and when I ask if they need me.
Now I know, if I am a diligent bumper, I should ALWAYS ask the gate agent (GA) if a flight is oversold. 10 seats open on the Fly Delta APP? I should still ask if they need volunteers. Why? Things are changing all the time and we do not have access to the true picture of the live situation (even more so now that Delta blocks Expert Flyer).
For example, did a flight before this one cancel and a flood of passengers are about to fill up those seats? Also by letting the GA know you are interested, good things can happen. You can mention if things change you are happy to help out (on an international flight, if coach is oversold but not business, you may just find yourself upgraded free – but not bumped, for example). Or the other way can happen too. A bunch of folks who were to be on your jet do not make it because of a late flight or change, for whatever reason, to another flight or route.
A simple alert that your flight is oversold is that you see there are NO seats on the jet like you see in the example at the top of the post. But this is not 100% foolproof and the seat map may not be correct.
There may be seats blocked that can open up or there may be seats sold but not yet assigned. It is a pain and extra work, since we can not really check ourselves, but you can tweet to Delta assist and find out if a flight is oversold (btw, please use twitter if you don’t already). Some reps will give you lots of data like: “Yes, over by 5” while others, like in my case, just that it is sold out. Still data is data.
Another quick way to get some data is to search for a “Y” class or full price coach seat for your flight. If your flight does not even show up as an option, it is a safe bet your flight is oversold.
When it comes to negotiating the value of the bump, don’t be afraid to ask for more. For example, if I were offered $200 I would just say NO. That is too little to bother with. But if I were offered $400 I would ask for $600 and so on. All they can do is say NO and you can decide if you want to take their offer or just take your seat on the jet. Also, if they start “walking” the offer up, that is, they start at $400 and the final offer is $800 to get someone off the jet – you 100% can DEMAND the final offer to the last passenger.
Lastly, if you really want to be a pro at this, and it is worth it to you, then check out flights ahead of time that you would be willing to switch too. Are there flights that you could take later or the next day that are just about sold out? If you can switch to those, your chances are good for yet another bumpertunity. – René