Busy Labor Day Travel Could Be a Way To Score a $10,000 Seat Offer From Airlines

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Receiving $10,000 to voluntarily give up your seat on a flight sounds too good to be true, but that’s exactly what happened on an overbooked Delta Air Lines flight during a high-travel weekend. Delta Air Lines offered eight passengers $10,000 each to forfeit their seats on an overbooked flight from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Empty seats aren’t profitable, so overbooking has become a common practice among airlines to ensure every seat is paid for and filled. While airlines will first ask passengers to volunteer to give up their seats on overbooked flights in exchange for payment, they’re also required by law in certain situations to rebook and compensate passengers who involuntarily must give up their seats.

If you’re looking for a chance to say “yes” to this kind of offer over the busy Labor Day travel weekend, here’s what you need to know.

Book With These Airlines

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) latest Air Travel Consumer Report, some airlines bump passengers due to oversales more frequently than others. You’re more likely to be bumped and compensated by flying these airlines along the most popular flight routes:

  • Delta Air Lines Network

  • Allegiant Air

  • Hawaiian Airlines

  • United Airlines Network

  • JetBlue Airways

  • Alaska Airlines Network

  • Spirit Airlines

  • American Airlines Network

  • Southwest Airlines

  • Frontier Airlines

Delta plane at MSP airport Minneapolis

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Travel Solo and Stay Flexible

To take advantage of a potential $10,000 (or other significant financial offer/s from your booked airline) seat offer, you will most likely need to be traveling solo (or have a willing flying partner) and be flexible on the date and time of the next available flight. If you have certain obligations — such as a job, wedding, or another important event to attend — this may not be the best time to give up your seat.

If it’s a good time and you have a chance to volunteer, say yes! If not, get on your planned flight and ensure you arrive at your final destination on time.

Have an Inexpensive Place To Stay

Another consideration if you get the chance to give up your seat is to have an inexpensive place to stay. The airline could book you on a later flight, which could be the next day, so you’ll need a place to stay for the night. A cheap option is to stay with a friend or family member who lives near the airport.

Worth reading next: Top Benefits of Airport Lounges and How To Get In for Free

Calculate Any Extra Costs

Calculate the cost of taxis or other transportation to and from the airport if you need to take a later flight. Plus, factor in the cost of an extra night or two in a hotel, plus meals. That will also help you decide if what you’re offered is worth being bumped.

The Bottom Line

If an airline offers to compensate you for your seat due to overbooking, then waiting an extra day or two to fly out may be worth the hassle. However, the DOT says to first ask these questions:

  • When is the next available flight you can book me on?

  • Will you provide free accommodations and transportation?

  • Does this ticket or voucher expire?

  • Is the ticket or voucher unusable during holiday periods?

  • Does the ticket or voucher apply to international flights?

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