When you watch a peaceful fellow passenger get dragged down the aisle of your flight, bloodied from the beat down he just received from police, just for refusing to leave the seat he paid for, you get that “oh god, I hope they don’t ask for my seat” feeling. Truth be told there are a variety of reasons that a passenger can become the subject of involuntary bumps or denied boarding, but there are a few things you can do to minimize the chances…

This whole post is all about NOT getting bumped, but if you’re flexible and could use some extra travel cash (or would just love it), getting bumped is amazing. A couple just this week scored over $10,000 in Delta vouchers by taking bumps off of consecutive flights. So basically, just do the opposite of everything here if you’d like a bump, oh, and find flights that are full!

Input A Frequent Flyer Number

Frequent flyer numbers are an off putting term. Even if it’s your first flight, signing up for the airline loyalty program is always a good idea, will earn you rewards and may just keep you from getting bumped. Airlines are less likely to bump a person with a frequent flyer number than someone without one. Plus, one day you could even get upgrades or use miles for an amazing flight.

Get To The Gate On Time (Early)…

No, that doesn’t mean crowd around the boarding area before your zone is called. It does however mean that you shouldn’t hang at the burger bar too long when boarding is nearing. In oversold situations airlines often bump passengers who are not present at the gate when their zone or name is called. If you’re in Zone 4 and planned to wait to board last after Zone 9, chances are someone from Zone 5 is now in your seat…

Check A Bag? Yes.

This is a total catch 22, because anyone who travels frequently will tell you that there is nothing worse than checking a bag. Wasted time, wasted effort, sometimes even wasted money, but perhaps no bump. Airlines are less likely to offload a passenger with a checked bag than a solo traveler with hand luggage only. If you’re in the US, this is where it can make sense to carry the credit card of the airline you frequent most, where you get a free checked bag on every flight. At least that way you’re not paying! 

Negotiate Your Heart Out…

If your name is called and you must reach your destination on time, don’t be afraid to seek mercy from the gate agent. It’s not out of bounds to politely ask if they wouldn’t mind one last time asking for volunteers, perhaps even pleading with nearby passengers. Be professional, be courteous but see what happens. Also, before things get to being bumped, try your hand at negotiating these voucher offers, if you have flexibility. These situations can be auction style and there’s serious future travel money to be had here…

Arm Yourself With Alternatives…

I pay $10 per month for a service that looks into upgrades and tells me how many seats are left in every cabin on every flight. If it looks like a flight is over sold, my first thought is to see if any other airlines are operating the route, and if there are any seats available with them. If there are, when the airline goes to bump me, I can politely ask to be transferred onto the other airline (at their expense), asking for my ticket to be validated or transferred over.