Overbooking on flights is not always bad news.
But being bumped can make you hundreds of pounds. Travelling alone, volunteering to be bumped and knowing how to negotiate could get you enough cash to cover you next holiday. And perhaps an upgrade and extra airmiles too.
Here, travel experts show how to make the practice work for you. Plus tips on how to make money out of your holiday and travel in style for less.
New footage shows passenger’s panicked moments before being dragged from United Airlines flight
Phil Bloomfield, head of PR at Cheapflights.co.uk , says: “If you can be flexible and are prepared to set aside your traditional British reserve, then it can pay to be a bit brazen in the event of an airline overbooking your flight – just don’t expect a guaranteed outcome.”
Gilbert Orr, founder of frequent-flier blog God Save the Points, recommends website expertflyer.com, which has a tool to show how many seats are left on any given flight. The fewer seats left, the more likely it is to be overbooked.
“At check-in, if volunteers are needed to be bumped, ask to be put on the list. Then stick around the gate area,” he says.
“Bumps are fast and swift, so even if you are first on the list, but not at the gate when your name is called, they will move to the next person. Travelling alone will also improve your success rate.
“Then it is down to negotiation. They key is gauging demand. On a Monday morning business route few people have flexibility so you can ask for more.”
The amount of compensation given to bumped passengers is laid down by regulations – up to 600 Euros (£500) in the EU, plus meals, phone calls and, if necessary, hotels. It is up to $1,350 (£1,056) in the USA. However, many airlines are willing to give greater value in vouchers, miles and future upgrades, allowing passengers room for negotiation.
Gilbert adds: “Full service carriers have more to offer than budget carriers. I know of a couple recently who was given a return business class flight by Virgin Atlantic for their troubles, and still accommodated on a later flight. Be polite and try, ‘look, I’m tired, I’d love to get home, but if you can get me an upgrade on the next flight and a voucher I’ll make it work’.
“Vouchers, miles and upgrades are your negotiating currency.”
(Photo: South Wales Echo)
HOW TO EARN AIR MILES WITHOUT EVEN FLYING
“Slash the cost of flights worldwide for you and your partner, just for spending on a piece of plastic,” says a spokesman for MoneySavingExpert.com . “Airline credit cards offer Avios and other frequent flyer points.
“You can combine any miles you earn from spending with those you earn from flying, or through other credit card reward schemes, such as converting Tesco Clubcard points. Added together, your stash can build up much more quickly.
“But this is a credit card which can affect your credit score, so always repay in full every month, watch out for high annual fees, don’t aim to borrow or withdraw cash from these cards.
“When you’ve collected enough miles they can be converted into flights (though you still need to pay taxes and charges). Availability is much more limited when booking this way, so ensure you’re flexible.
“There are three schemes that use Avios points: Avios (formerly Airmiles), the British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus. To maximise you points, join all three. Points are usually worth the same, regardless of scheme, and can be freely transferred between them.
HOW TO GET A CELEB AIRPORT EXPERIENCE WITHOUT THE PRICE TAG
You don’t have to upgrade to first class to experience elements of luxury air travel. There’s a wealth of VIP tricks bookable online – so you can fly like the stars, without spending the earth.
Anthony Clarke-Cowell, from HolidayExtras.com , says: “Forget waiting for the transfer bus. Those in the know drive straight to the departure terminal.
“Meet and Greet parking is the ultimate time saver and the most convenient way to park your car at the airport. An airport-approved driver will take your car to a secured location nearby while you’re busy checking in for your flight, saving you the hassle of finding a space.”
Your car is waiting for you when you land back at the airport.
He added: “Lounges are also available to everyone for a small charge. Complimentary refreshments, access to the internet, TV and newspapers are all included for up to three hours before your flight. There are even special champagne or spa packages available at some of the airport lounges.”
MAKE A DELAYED OR CANCELLED FLIGHT PAY FOR YOUR NEXT
Flight delays can be caused by anything from sudden snowstorms, foggy mornings or even volcanoes.
But, says James Walker, founder of consumer website Resolver.co.uk , if you’re raring to go on holiday – or ready to go home – flight delays are certainly frustrating.
“Of course, most reasons for delays aren’t the fault of the airline. But if the delay is a result of their error, and over three hours, you might be able to claim a refund of up to £550 per person.
“Check out our guide to getting compensation at resolver.co.uk.”
RENT OUT YOUR HOME WHILE YOU ARE AWAY
Emma Morris, spokeswoman at TravelSupermarket says: “If you are a home owner, renting out your house, flat, or even a just a room while you are away could earn you a decent amount towards your next trip away. Airbnb, Wimdu and TripAdvisor Holiday Rentals are all worth checking out – and is tax free for earnings under £7,500 a year.”
“For example, you can only book Eurostar using the Avios scheme, and you can only part-pay on bookings with British Airways (BA). There may also be more flight availability on one than another.
“You can move or pool Avios between the three at any time, log in to the Avios scheme you want to put the points in, go to your account and click ‘combine your Avios’.”
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