Air Canada Offers to Pay You If You’re Willing to Be Bumped Early

Air Canada has long been the leader in finding things to sell that were not previously offered at all, and it appears they’ve done it again. Now, you can earn some cash by volunteering in advance to be bumped if they need your seat closer to departure. I like the idea a lot, but I do have to wonder if the execution could have been done better.

Unfortunately, it’s not a very straightforward process. Air Canada says that to take advantage of the opportunity, you have to go to the Optiontown website. Apparently, they’re the ones taking the risk here. Once there, you put in your confirmation number and last name and they prepare your offer.

Only parties of 1 or 2 people traveling on Tango or Tango Plus (the cheapest) fares are eligible on flights within Canada or between Canada and the US. Even those people may not be offered the option on every flight. When you enter your information, you get to decide how flexible you are. If you give them a wider range of availability (up to three days), you can earn more than if you just have a few hours of leeway. Once you pick your time range, they give you specific flights within that range from which to choose. At that point, you pick the actual flight that you would be willing to take as an alternate to your original, if they need you.

Finally, you get to choose how far in advance you need to know your plans, either 2 or 4 days prior to departure. If you give them 2 days, they’ll pay you more than if you need 4 days. More flexibility means more money for you.

So how much can you get? They’ll give you up to $7 (USD or CAD) just for signing up. Then if they actually opt to switch you to the new flight, they’ll give you up to $50 more each way. It’s not as much as you could get if you were bumped at the airport, but that makes sense. They’re giving you much more advance notice and they even let you pick your alternative.

This seems like a win-win to me. For Air Canada, they can gain flexibility. If they want to overbook as the flight gets closer, they know how many options they have to move people around. And it will ultimately cost them less to bump people in both monetary and emotional costs. For passengers, they can earn a little extra cash and pick the flight to which they’d want to switch.

My only complaint is that it’s a very complicated system, and you won’t know how much you could make until you actually go through the motions of signing up. That’s a lot of hassle for something that you may not opt to accept if the payment isn’t high enough. But still, it’s better than nothing. Let me know if anyone has the chance to give it a try.

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11 Comments on "Air Canada Offers to Pay You If You’re Willing to Be Bumped Early"

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David
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I’m assuming that for small changes of up to about 2 or 4 hours, Air Canada can basically change your flight to whatever they like without having to pay you for it. I’m gonna ignore the time it takes to set things up on the website, but the hassle factor of having my flight changed has to be worth more than $50 to me. If I’m going to be bumped, this just sounds like the airline is buying me off on the (very) cheap. I think the people accepting this kind of change are likely to be those who are… Read more »
The Traveling Optimist
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The Traveling Optimist
$50 for advance notice or a free ticket (if that’s what AC offers) at the gate? The passenger has to jump thru hoops to get the cheapest fare then is offered money to be even more flexible than that? The benefit for the customer is to lock in the low fare without incurring penalties for changes the airline wants. As an old Revenue Management hand, the upside for the airline is an entirely new level of planning algorithms based on true close-in elasticity. The downside for both is the opportunistic passenger who changes his or her mind at the last… Read more »
Artie
Guest

Wasn’t United also offering some sort of pre-flight bump list? What are the similarities and differences to this AC program?

The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
As an ex-airline manager I agree..there are a lot of benefits to this financially, among them being to mitigate customer inconvenience, operating expense and drama at the gate. As a customer, however, I see very little about this that’s attractive to anyone except someone returning home or to college who doesn’t care if he or she misses the first few days of class or work. On the front side it’s the cart before the horse. Hotels, cruise lines, guided tours and other travel providers will deal with the fall out until any or all of these can create compatible flex-planning… Read more »
The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
Add some flexibility to it and I will agree, then, that it may work on the front end if it also allows up to three days in advance of travel instead of flights later than intended. In that regard I would be flexible enough to spend an extra two or three days in Los Angeles before the boat sailed or something to that affect. I’d even consider an alternate airport if they opened that up as well. If this “test” goes well, perhaps even overseas as well? So long as the traveler is flexible AND savvy enough, there’s a possibility… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member
I think this is a wonderful idea. We’ve traditionally asked the airlines to take all of the risk and then complain to no end when they do something we don’t like to mitigate or compensate for that risk. This way the risk moves around a little bit, and they pay you for the option. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but what if airlines stopped charging those $100 change fees, but instead made airline tickets “you bought it, you get to use it” but also gave you the option to transfer the ticket to another person for a $15 change… Read more »
David
Guest
Nicholas – a name change fee is a good idea – but it needs to be a lot more expensive than $15. If it were that cheap, then people would buy up the realyl cheap seats 11 months before departure date, and then tout them on eBay for the remaining 11 months at a higher price. The result would be that the true passengers pay the touts for their tickets…. with maybe 60% of the ultimate fare going to the airline, and 40% going to the tout. It would also mean that any company who currently would buy a full… Read more »
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[…] Maybe that works for you. They’re upgrading the options, but downgrading the payment. (via Cranky) Categorized in: travel SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “Upgrades and Downgrades: Stripper pilots, […]

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[…] Upgraded: Bump scheduling Downgraded: Bump compensation Air Canada will let you put yourself on the bump list in advance, in case a flight is overbooked, but in terms of cash, it’s a lousy deal. At best, they’ll let you earn up to $57 CAD or USD per one-way flight, including connections. That’s at least half of what you’d be getting if you were bumped at the gate. the tradeoff: You get to choose your alternate flight in advance. Maybe that works for you. They’re upgrading the options, but downgrading the payment. (via Cranky) […]

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