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.