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What’s your time worth?  I always have a hard time answering that question.  I am a computer programmer by trade, and even when I was a contractor and actually BILLING BY THE HOUR, it always didn’t feel like I had a great answer to that question.  It’s not like if I wasn’t at work, there was someone who was going to give me my hourly rate just to sit around.

I have written before about the rules for voluntary denied boarding (VDB or “the bump”) on Southwest, though normally they are asking for volunteers, so the compensation may vary

(SEE ALSO: This is how I got $1000 from a Delta Airlines bump)

(SEE ALSO: Woman got a $10,000 United voucher – this is how she spent it)

In case a real-life example would be helpful, I thought I’d share an experience I had awhile ago. My wife and I were flying from Indianapolis to Las Vegas to attend a conference. At the time, I had the Southwest Companion pass, which made flying on Southwest super attractive (since my companion would fly free), so we drove from Cincinnati to Indy (Southwest didn’t fly out of Cincinnati – this was awhile ago).


Our flight left at 1:55 pm (Central time) and was scheduled to arrive at 2:50 pm (Pacific).  We followed all the bumping “rules” by not checking any bags, and arriving at the airport early.

At the IND airport

When we got there, I went up to the gate agent and asked if the flight was oversold.  The agent said she thought we’d be okay.  I stopped by as we got closer to the scheduled departure time, and a different agent said that they thought we might need 1.  I gave her my information and she said that since she only needed 1, they could accommodate 2, but would only compensate 1.

There were several other flights going to Las Vegas that afternoon

ind-las-southwest-flightsUnfortunately, the agent wouldn’t put me on any of the flights until the one connecting in ATL, arriving at 11:30 p.m.  She said that all of the other flights were already full. I had heard stories of people that continued getting bumped and bumped on several different flights throughout the day, so I don’t know if that’s ever possible or if this is standard procedure.

Mrs. PWaC shuts down the bump

I put my name on the list, but after talking it over with Carolyn, we decided that we didn’t want to do this.  With a limited-time on our kid-free getaway, we decided we didn’t want to spend another 5 hours in the airport plus an extra 4 hours or so in the air (since the flight was connecting, and connecting the wrong way).  That’s not to mention the fact that we would be getting in at 2:30 in the morning our time.  That would have made me extra cranky when the hotel shuttle took an hour to show up!!

I wasn’t clear as to whether or not they eventually would have needed a 2nd person (that stuff changes all the time), nor what the exact compensation would be, but I was estimating it at close to $1000, if maybe a little less

The Bottom Line – would it have been worth it?

But back to the beginning of the story – what would you do? As I re-edit this story (it originally happened and ran several years ago), I started to think more about what I might have done. A few factors make it more likely I’d be willing to take the bump

  • If I’m traveling alone – if I’m with family or kids, I’m less likely to want to bump
  • Lounge access – if I’m in Dallas and can spend time in the sweet Capital One DFW lounge then maybe I don’t mind as much
  • What else is going on – will I miss something important by not making it to my destination earlier?

In this case, everything was going against me (traveling with the wife, no accessible lounge at the time and I would have missed out on a few conference events in Vegas by not arriving earlier in the day. But other times it has worked out for me, like when I took $1000 for a bump from Delta when I was traveling alone

What about you? Would you take $1000 for a 9 hour delay?

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