Cranky on the Web: An Upgrade for a Bump, How to Avoid More Fees

Government Regulation, Spirit

How to Get Upgraded to First Class: Use Oversold Flights to Your AdvantageCondé Nast Traveler
Is it likely that you can get upgraded if you offer to volunteer on an oversold flight? No. But can you try? Sure. It can never hurt to ask.

How to make that cheap Spirit or Frontier airfare even cheaper (hint: step away from your computer)Cleveland Plain Dealer
Do you have a lot of time on your hands? If so, you too can save on airline fees by going to the airport. It’s real, but it’s not the right move for everyone.

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7 comments on “Cranky on the Web: An Upgrade for a Bump, How to Avoid More Fees

  1. I work an easy bike ride from LAX, so a couple times I’ve loaded my bike in my car and pedaled over to the Spirit counter to take advantage. Definitely not something I’d make a dedicated trip for.

  2. I’ve volunteered to be bumped multiple times over the past two decades flying with United. When they’ve taken me up on the offer, I’ve always ended up in C-class (without having to negotiate it). I don’t doubt this is less likely to happen in the current market, where Polaris is almost always full (and the waitlist to upgrade is sizable).

  3. I forever remember my first time flying First. It was on America West from BWI to PHX – they ALWAYS oversold that flight around any holidays and so when they asked for volunteers to fly out the next morning, I may have flirted with the agent (he had a cute smile and I still had all my hair) and asked him if I could fly first the next morning in place of the voucher. After all the passengers were accommodated, he kindly still gave me the $400 voucher AND the upgrade the next morning. I was like a kid in a candy store that flight. I even remember we had strawberry pancakes for breakfast in first.
    These days I haven’t experienced an oversold flight in YEARS. So I just rely on my lowly AA Gold Status for the occasional short hop upgrade out of non hubs.
    But like they always say: You never forget your first time.

  4. A friend of mine negotiated to waive all EU compensation (hotel, meals, plus actual compensation) for an upgrade the next day, and the ticket agent ended up giving him Y->F rather than J.

    It obviously was against the rules for both him and the airline, but it was Air France flying from Italy so rules were really more like suggestions anyway.

    1. That isn’t something that I would do, but for people flying on business (where their employer would presumably cover the cost of a hotel and a few meals if the employer didn’t know any better) or for people who need extra space (e.g., because of their size or disabilities), I could see how that type of an arrangement might make sense, and might provide better value to both the passenger and the airline.

      Shame that regulations make those types of negotiated agreements less than kosher, but that’s all I’ll say about that.

  5. The first time I flew first class was Winter 2007 on Northwest Airlines MSP to JFK. It was an oversold flight and they were looking for volunteers, and without checked bags (which we didn’t do all that often at the time) I had nogotated them to fly us to LGA arriving at nearly the same time with full compensation. As soon as we approached the ticket counter we were immediately upgraded to First Class as a thank you for volunteering, they didn’t need to bump us in the end but we enjoyed flying first class. I still remember to fun glassware with the Northwest compass logo engraved in the crystal, the meal options were a salad or a turkey sandwich and my Dad commenting on how nice it was to get off the plane first.

    Now that I think of it, I’ve volunteered to be bumped multiple times but the only time I’ve been bumped was an Involuntary Denied Boarding situation where I had to be firm with my rights with the American Airlines contract agents in SBN that I wanted a Check for cash and not a voucher.

  6. I rarely have volunteered, these days the airlines are too stingy with enticements. But I will always remember my Thanksgiving Newlywed oversell success. Was a poor newlywed so we had booked SJC-BOI-PDX to get the lower QXE fare. Was out of the old Terminal C at SJC where ASA/QXE operated out of 4 gates with air stairs. Show up and the BOI flight was oversold. Managed to get on the non-stop ASA flight to PDX that left within 15 minutes of the schedule BOI flight (the flight I wanted to take, but was more at booking) and got two free vouchers to anywhere ASA flew CONUS; which we used the next spring to try the new SEA-DCA nonstop. Best $120 airfare I ever bought, and my mom was surprised when we called her to come pick us up 4 hours early too.

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