Delta Auctions Bumped Seats

The game of airline bumping is changing… at least for passengers flying one airline. Delta is allowing passengers to auction their seats on overbooked flights.

Bumping happens when airlines overbook flights… which is a common practice in the industry.  Airlines are counting on that some passengers won’t show up, leaving empty seats for stand-by’s.   When it doesn’t work out that way, that’s when bumping begins.

I used to love to play the bumping game, much to the embarrassment of my three boys. Coming back to the Mainland from Hawaii years ago, our family got bumped twice and made $2000 in vouchers. I had to pass on the third bump (and another $1000) after my kids started a revolt. Six hours at the airport was enough for them. It did pay for a couple more trips though.

Here’s how the new bumping system under Delta works.   As soon as you check in, you’ll be asked how much in travel vouchers it’ll cost Delta to bump you to a different flight.  The airline will then pick the customers with the lowest bids.  Let’s say you tell Delta it’ll take $200 to give up your seat.  You could lose out, if another passenger undercuts your offer.  Delta says the changes are part of ongoing efforts to avoid inconveniencing customers.

With this new system,  it appears that Delta is pushing voucher amounts lower.  But SmarterTravel.com says “the opposite could also be true. Unless a traveler is desperate to be bumped, there’s no good reason to bid low. Why not bid $300 or more, and see what happens?”

Click here to read Delta’s blog about its new bumping system.

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