By now, few people haven't seen the viral video showing a bloody United passenger being dragged down the aisle as he is removed from an overbooked flight. While overbooking is a common practice, it helps to go into any situation informed with all the knowledge you can about your rights and potential for reward (to the tune, if you're skillful and available, and all the stars align, of $11,000).
We crowdsourced a group of regular flyers and asked them to cite their individual price tags when it comes to being — that now-famous word — "re-accommodated." While the range is significant, the most frequent travelers tend to get more based on their negotiation experience — and the parents among the group were much less likely to take a buyout.
"If I'm flying solo, I'll take the rebook... if it's getting in on the same day within three or four hours of the original flight, and with over $400 in compensation — far clearing the cost of for four hours of airport margaritas." —Rachel M.
"I only did it once when I just had to work that day, and the offer was $1,300 cash! So I bought a day pass to the Delta lounge and worked until my new flight with some comp house wine; 12 hours and one extra leg later, I was home." —Amy K.
"Post-baby, I'm much less likely to do it. But if I'm flying alone and schedule isn't an issue, I'll often volunteer. I've received several $400 to $800 flight credits in the past on Delta, and was also once paid cash by Air France to switch to a different flight — we were denied boarding on a flight with a stopover through JFK from Paris to LAX because it was oversold. They ended up rebooking us on a direct flight from CDG to LAX and paid us €300 cash each on the spot for the trouble. Also important to note that I'll only volunteer if I haven't checked bags! Otherwise, that's a disaster waiting to happen." —Nadine J.
"If my plans were flexible enough, I'd definitely take $400 to $800, rebook, and hotel — as long as it could apply to my whole family if we were traveling together." —Elizabeth S.
"I'd take two unrestricted round trip tickets to a destination of my choice — like the old days." —David S.
"It would have to be really good to sway me, and I'd wait no more than an extra three hours. I'd take unrestricted credits or cash with a minimum value of $500, depending on the inconvenience I'm caused or the length of the trip." —Katinka P.
"I'd need to have a flexible schedule and a free place to stay for the extra night, plus a ticket of equal or greater value than what I'm being bumped from." — Ellie L.
"If I don't have anywhere to be and I have somewhere to stay, I'd do it for $400 or more." —Ashley L.
"A lot of times I don't volunteer; time is usually what I'm short on. But if I had the time, a seat in same cabin or class with a nonstop flight a few hours later, plus some sort of perk — miles, voucher, cash — would be fine." —Ludvig S.
"If we can get free flights somewhere — or a voucher that really counts for something, plus a free place to stay if we're bumped overnight... then we discuss if it's worth it. If we have nowhere to be, we always give up our seats. I'd say we do it half the time — obviously harder with a kid." —Kate S.
"It's changed since I've had a kid: Whether I'm traveling with the baby, or trying to get home to the baby, I won't volunteer. But pre-baby, if the voucher was enough to cover at least most of another flight and I didn't have a pressing meeting or event to attend, I always considered it." —Emily F.
"What is happening, and where I am going on the flight? If time is not an issue, I'm open to it — but only for cash, not for flight credit." —Aly W.
"It depends on what I'll miss. I'm much more likely to volunteer on the way home versus on the way to my trip. And I only do it for cash, not vouchers." —Katie H.
"Must be over $500, first flight out next day with hotel covered and food voucher." —Ko I.
"Depends on my itinerary and who is expecting me on other side but I seek the most money possible always. It also depends on where it is and when the next flight is: If it's somewhere I might enjoy exploring for a night and day, and the offer is right, I will rebook." —Sue C.
"$500 voucher for me to consider it, and even then, I won't always do it. (The last time Delta offered one, I was flying to surprise my mom, so I turned down a $1,000 voucher. Still think about that one!) But also worth noting: In Europe, airlines are more strictly regulated and pro-passenger — imagine that. If, for instance, your flight is delayed because of the airline (as opposed to weather), the airline has to pay passengers a penalty. I don't think most Americans understand how much better consumer protection is in other first-world countries." —Annie T.
"I've accepted a $300 voucher before... but now that I know they're offering up cash, I'd be a fool not to walk away with at least $500!" —Ashleigh W.
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