Delta Bump Guide – $133 An Hour & Free Cocktails

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Some times the travel stars align perfectly. Getting paid by Delta to drink booze and watch NCAA basketball is hard to beat. This is exactly what Delta paid me to do today. In this post, I’ll share a quick and easy guide on how to position yourself to get paid by being flexible with an oversold flight.

Bump Guide

One of the most important rules is to remain flexible and friendly. It is equally important to be at the right place at the right time, so planning is critical. Plan ahead by checking available seats online, get to the gate early, offer to be a volunteer and then be proactive with flexible routing options.

  1. Know your flight is oversold
  2. Check your flight online
  3. Stay near gate prior to boarding and offer to volunteer before announcement is made
  4. Watch gate agents as they make announcements and be first to volunteer
  5. Be friendly to the gate agent
  6. Be flexible and know your alternative flight routing

How I Got Bumped For $400 Delta Dollars

This evening the stars aligned for my $400 voluntary bump opportunity. I was first trying to get on an earlier flight and knew that all options were oversold (in negative seat position) from my departure airport. So when my stand by request didn’t clear, I knew it was game on.

I went to the gate about 45 minutes before scheduled departure. The flight was delayed by 30 minutes, so I returned to the club lounge to catch another 25 minutes or so of the NCAA games. When I returned to the gate, I snagged a nice position near the gate counter. The position would prove critical to success. I watched the overhead monitors closely and verified that my flight was indeed oversold. Then I watched the plane arrive and passengers depart. I knew the announcement requesting a volunteer or two would be made soon.

As soon as the young gate agent picked up the microphone I began to make my move. I approached the gate and before she got out more than “we are looking for one person”, I extended my boarding pass and said “I’m your one guy”. The deal was closed in less than 30 seconds. The guys behind me never stood a chance. I planned for and won that voluntary bump voucher.

The gate agent went through the mechanics of providing the $400 voucher and two $10 food vouchers. She confirmed me on the next flight departing 3 hours later. She even gave me a better seat. I am now set with $400 in Delta vouchers that are good for one year. All it took was a little planning and remaining flexible.

What Do You Do When It’s An Over Night Bump

Airlines typically offer hotel accommodations. Make sure you like the hotel they offer as compensation. Did you know you can request a voucher instead of hotel accommodation?

If you don’t like the hotel, you can pocket the ~$200 hotel compensation they will give you. Instead you can use your points for a hotel stay or just pay the usually low airport hotel rates. Most hotels near airports only require a few thousand points anyway, easily making the $200 voucher worth the points.

Bottom Line

Staying flexible with your travel plans and being friendly can pay off in terms of travel vouchers. Next time you are in an oversold situation, make sure you know your voluntary and involuntary denied boarding rights.

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About The Weekly Flyer

The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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  1. Is the policy with Delta Dollars/Delta Bump Vouchers that you can’t earn frequent flyer miles on tickets redeemed with Delta Dollars/Delta Bump Vouchers?

  2. Hi Max – Yes, you will earn miles on future travel if you use a voucher to purchase the future ticket. The voucher simple takes off money from your total flight price. If your voucher is less than the ticket, you’ll have to pay out of pocket, if your voucher is less than your ticket, you’ll have residual value on the voucher.

  3. Why wait for them to announce that the flight is oversold? Ask the gate agent immediately about the potential and get your name on the list.

  4. Agree that the hotel idea is great. I never realized you could get straight compensation.

  5. Volunteered to get bumped on Friday.
    Was on a flight at 11:45 out of Orange County through Houston to DCA. The flight was “weight restricted” Orange County has small run ways and with the heat they need to use more fuel to get off the ground quickly – thus needing less weight on the plane when it’s hot.
    They needed 22 to get off. I think 12-14 originally volunteered before getting on (I was one of them). The original offer was a transferable $300 voucher good for a year. They needed 10-12 more people to get off. The gate agent went on after everyone had boarded asked if others would like to do so, etc.. She raised the offer to $350 plus $10 for food. She got 10 more off.
    I totally lucked out. The flight I was bumped for was delayed as was my connecting flight. I got on a flight 2 hours later then I was scheduled to leave in Orange County – different routing – that was on time. I got into my final destination 30 minutes later then I would have if I had not of volunteered. My bag went through my original destination and was still on the carousel when I arrived at baggage claim from my original routing.. So earned another 10-15 minutes there. Lastly met a nice girl on the plane that also volunteered and was going to DC who gave me a ride to the W Washington DC – my hotel (great hotel) So for 30 minutes I received $350 voucher, lunch and upgrade to 2 economy comfort seats! Hope this happens again!

  6. Old Post…
    YYZ to ATL is usually oversold. Flights every 2 hours. Got bumped twice upgraded to first and only waited about 4.5 hours. Made $1200 + Food Vouchers.

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