Bumping is the term for when a passenger won’t be able to fly on a previously-scheduled flight. The situation usually involves overbooking by the airline, and all seats are occupied, although more tickets were sold than actual seats available. It’s a common airline practice, especially at holiday times, to avoid losing money, because on any typical flight, several passengers with tickets will miss the flight.
There are two ways of getting bumped. One is voluntarily, when asked, and in airline terms is called Voluntarily Denied Boarding. This happens when the flight is full and late-arriving ticket holders won’t be permitted to board unless already-aboard passengers opt to give up their seats.
The incentive for this willing bumping is usually cash and/or free tickets for future flights. Additionally, airline counter personnel will attempt to get the volunteer on the next available flight. If the delay will be overnight until the next flight, the airline will also pay for a nearby hotel room.
The other way you can be bumped from your flight has the ominous description of Involuntarily Denied Boarding. This means the flight is overbooked and one or several already seated passengers may be chosen to be bumped. If it happens to you, there are several steps you can take.
First, if you believe this flight is absolutely essential for you, as calmly as possible tell the attendant your reason. It could be for your medical condition, a serious family situation, an important business meeting you’d miss or other need to stay on the flight. If you’re denied and still must be bumped, get the attendant’s name and report the facts as soon as possible to the airline customer service phone or Email address.
As with those voluntarily bumped, if you’re forced to miss your flight, the airline will offer you incentives. It would probably include getting you on the next available flight to your destination, overnight hotel if applicable, a free round-trip on your next flight and/or a cash settlement of at least the price of your current ticket.
Whether being bumped is voluntary or not, be sure you’ve given the information as quickly as possible to anyone who may be waiting for you at your destination airport. If family, business associates or others also expect you to arrive at a certain time, be sure to inform them of your change of schedules. When you’ve confirmed your booking on a later flight, give that information to those who expect word from you.
There are many positive things you can do when bumped from a flight, except for one potentially negative one. Do your very best not to make it worse by losing your temper.