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The art of taking a bump for an oversold flight is not one that I have completely figured out, even though it seems like it should be something that would be at least a little gameable. I have gotten $1,000 from taking a bump on Delta before, and there was a passenger that was given a TEN THOUSAND DOLLAR voucher a few years ago.

(SEE ALSO: Should You Accept an Early Bump Offer From an Airline?)

(SEE ALSO: The One Time I Was Happy My Flight Was Cancelled)

Still, it’s no denying that taking a bump voucher can make sense if and when it all works out for you, but watch out – because it can all come crashing down horribly

A Delta plane on the runway.

Image source: Delta.

Problems Trying To Take a Bump From Delta

I was alerted to a situation on Delta from my friend Jeff, who documented his experience on Delta on Twitter in a series of 3 tweets

Delta Downgrading a First-Class Passenger

Jeff had a first class seat but gave it up because the Delta gate agents said that the flight was oversold. He volunteered to take a later flight for $500. Someone else was given his seat in domestic first class, but then the flight ended up not being oversold after all. So Jeff was put BACK on the flight, only this time, the only available seat was in coach. To add insult to injury, all the overhead bin space was gone and he ended up having to gate check his carryon bag.

What Should Delta Have Done?

So from one perspective, Delta is totally in the right. Jeff gave up his first-class seat to take a $500 voucher to the next flight, but once he gave up his seat, he no longer had any claim to it. When it turned out that the flight was no longer oversold, at that point he had no further “right” to his original seat, and so was put back on the flight (in economy). Certainly it doesn’t seem reasonable that they would have further delayed the flight or put the person in Jeff’s original seat back in coach. You might think that would be “fair” (and I’m not necessarily disagreeing), but there’s no way that would happen at the gate IMO.

On the other hand, the optics of this sure stink. I mean of course this is a “first world” or “privilege” problem as Jeff points out on Twitter, but I don’t think it would be unreasonable for him to either keep the $500 and fly the later flight, or take some lesser amount of compensation if he kept his original flight (but had to fly coach). That could be either cash, a voucher or some Sky Miles. It wasn’t clear to me from the Twitter account whether he had paid for or booked the first class flight originally or had been upgraded as an elite member, and that might make a difference to me in thinking what “should” happen.

The Bottom Line

A Delta passenger volunteered to take a bump from an oversold flight to a later flight for $500 and gave up his first class seat. When the flight ended up not being oversold after all, he was put BACK on the flight, only this time in coach. While I think that it is true that once he “gave up” his seat, he had no further claims on it, it certainly doesn’t seem like the “right” situation. I don’t know if there was any way for Delta to not take his seat before they knew for sure if the flight was going to be oversold?

What do you think Delta should have done or should do in this situation? Leave your thoughts in the comments

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