Laura Begley Bloom was looking forward to a vacation in Fort Lauderdale but ended up making a hefty profit instead.
Bloom was planning to board a Delta flight from New York City to Florida with her husband and daughter when bad weather started causing delays, she wrote for Forbes. As most airlines do, Delta began offering up travel vouchers and money for volunteers who would give up their seats on the overbooked flight.
Though she was initially skeptical, Bloom’s husband convinced her to approach the gate agent and they earned $1,350 a piece for giving up their three seats, a total of $4,050. The gate agent promised to re-book the family on a flight the next day. When they arrived the next morning, Bloom and her family ran into a similar situation–more overbooked flights. They earned another $1,300 per person, plus lunch and round-trip taxi fare.
On the next day, the family’s third attempt to fly to Florida, Delta was again looking for volunteers to give up their seats. The family earned yet another $1,000 per person and, on top of that, had the cost of their tickets refunded.
All told, Bloom and her family earned $11,000 in one weekend thanks to Delta’s travel woes. Of course, they didn’t get to go on vacation either, but as Bloom pointed out, that’s a pretty big chunk of change for one weekend.
Here are some tips for getting the best deal on an overbooked flight:
1. Be Nice
Your chances of being compensated handsomely will go up if you’re sugary sweet and easy for the gate agent to deal with—getting mad likely won’t help you any.
2. Don’t Check Your Bags
As Bloom found out the hard way, if you check your luggage then volunteer to give up your seat on a flight, your luggage will still find its way to your final destination without you. If you think there’s a chance you’ll be giving up your seat on a flight, fly with carry-on bags only.
3. Stay Near The Podium
When the gate agent starts offering more and more money for volunteers, you want to be near the podium so you can snatch up a lucrative deal. Don’t seem too eager, however, or you could get less money.
4. Don’t Be Late
If you aren’t in the boarding area when you’re supposed to be, you might lose your seat—and you won’t get any money or gift cards for it. Don’t be late or you’ll ruin your chances of getting some compensation for your seat.
5. Cash Is King
Negotiate for cash, rather than a travel voucher, whenever possible. Vouchers may have blackout dates, expiration dates and other restrictions.