The First Thing You Should Consider Doing When You Get To The Airport This Summer

There’s an interesting thing happening in airports right now. It appears to be very good for the traveling public. And, it all stems from the horrific incident where a man was bloodied and dragged off of a plane.

After the United 3411 dragging incident, all airlines pledged to get better about involuntary denied boarding. Some airlines (for example, Southwest) stopped overselling flights altogether.

Others, like United, drastically increased the maximum amount of money offered to solicit volunteers to give up their seat.  These efforts were put in place at least in part to avoid Congress stepping in to regulate these sorts of things.

I’ve been on planes almost every week over the past couple of months.  As we’ve hit the busier summer travel season, I’m noticing a bit of a trend.  Summer generally brings fuller flights, thus more potential oversold situations.

In the olden days (4 months ago) it was pretty typical that gate agents would start offering $200 or $300 in compensation for someone to give up their seat on an oversold flight.  Fast forward to the last few weeks and the lowest starting compensation amount I’ve heard from a gate agent for a United flight is $600.  Now, it’s possible they’re offering lower amounts when folks check-in at a kiosk.  While I’ve seen those offers infrequently, I almost never check-in that way.

While $600 is the lowest, I’ve heard the gate agents start the first announcement at $800.  That’s a really nice chunk of change to take a later flight.  These offers are both for mainline and regional flights.

How You Can Take Advantage Of This?

If you get to the airport a bit early, make sure you approach the gate agent as soon as they arrive.  That’s typically an hour before departure.  Ask them if the flight is oversold and ask them if they’re looking for any volunteers.  If you know what Expert Mode is on United’s website you can also check ahead of time to see how full your flight is.

Be polite, not pushy.  Let them know you have flexible travel plans in case they need someone to take a later flight.

Given the amounts I hear being offered, it’s worth your time.

The post The First Thing You Should Consider Doing When You Get To The Airport This Summer was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. I’ve only approached a gate agent about this maybe 3 or 4 times, and haven’t had luck. Maybe I need to try more frequently?

    1. Bryce, the airlines are definitely getting better at not overselling flights. That being said, summer is peak season. So, if there’s ever a time to politely ask, now’s it!

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