By Derek Brown
We all know that planes are packed, and the airlines need a little help when they overbook a flight. The solution: Make this summer vacation pay for your next airline ticket with a volunteer bump. The process — which works by volunteering to give up your seat in exchange for a later flight and travel voucher — can be especially fruitful during the busy summer travel season.
I got $400 for volunteering to spend an extra night with a friend in New York City. That voucher paid for two more plane tickets.
Do the math: I spent $200 and flew three flights.
Here are a few suggestions to help your volunteer bump payout:
- Ask the gate agent if they need volunteers. If so, how much are they willing to pay? It’s negotiable, and the payout can increase if people don’t take the bait.
- Know the later flight options and confirm when your new flight will depart.
- Some airlines offer round-trip tickets as incentive but those tend to have restrictions. Try to negotiate for a voucher.
If you’re really lucky the free flight could need volunteers, too, and then it’s time to volunteer again.
When Derek Brown, the newest member to the Orbitz content team, isn’t jetting around the country or exploring cities like Shanghai, he’s at home in Andersonville, a charming North Side neighborhood in Chicago.