Feasible to plan for Christmas bump run? (From LHR/within US?)

Discussion in 'Mileage Runs/Travel Hacking' started by Valentine, Aug 5, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Valentine

    Valentine Silver Member

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    Hello all!

    I've been thinking of doing this for some time now, and with few commitments this winter, would like to ask if this crazy plan would be possible.

    My initial idea was to fly from LHR to a US hub city, then between hubs and hope to get continually bumped (ideally with lots of snow while at it). That, or simply figure out which European airlines have poor yield management, and try for an intra-Europe run (especially since EU compensation would possibly be better).

    (The ultimate idea is to ensure that the flight vouchers I would ideally receive would more than make up for the cost of a transatlantic flight and others.)

    Would flight cancellations from snowstorms put a hole in this plan though? I've had flights cancelled on me before, with no compensation whatsoever except an offer to be booked on the next available flight (some days later). Is IDB/VDB different from having a flight cancelled?
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    On the USA side of the pond, as a general rule (and especially if you do not have elite status) the airline does not provide hotel rooms or food vouchers when there are weather problems (delays, cancellations, missed connections, etc.). You are on your own and there might not be hotel availability at any price. Sometimes you find a sympathetic agent and sometimes this can be negotiated as part of a bump. However, if flights are cancelled or delayed due to weather, it might not qualify as a bump situation. Bumps are about overbooked flights on which one has a confirmed reservation and meets other requirements; if the flight is cancelled, you haven't been bumped. If there's a long standby list, they will not pay bump compensation to get waitlisted folks onto the flight, nor will those who are standby get compensation.

    My impression is that EU rules are more friendly to your plan, but you still risk spending days and days in an airport if there are no hotel rooms available.
     
  3. MaryDarling

    MaryDarling Silver Member

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    I think this plan is pretty much guaranteed not to work. East coast weather is incredibly fickle, and the minute you count on a delay or bump, 70 degree sunny days will break out over New York, Boston, Washington, and Chicago. Also, the compensation for the regional flights is unlikely to A) exist or B) come close to covering the cost of the transcon. I'd just ask for travel money on your gift list, instead -- you've got a far better chance of making it across the ocean that way.
     
  4. Sagy

    Sagy Gold Member

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    Many years ago when I was in college a friend of mine used to buy fully refundable tickets (they were reasonably priced at the time) for many flights (30-40) out of CMH for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after. He would spend the whole day at the airport volunteering off flights, if they didn't need him he just wouldn't board. The Monday after Thanksgiving he would return all the tickets before the end of the billing cycle on his (OK his dad's) credit card would end so he had 0 out of pocket cost. Sometimes he would get bumped from 2-3 flight off the same ticket (one of his conditions was to get put on a flight the same day). Often he had two flights scheduled to leave at around the same time so he needed helpers (other students) to volunteer him off another flight while he was collecting the voucher from a successful bump.

    The common compensation at the time was a voucher for a free RT ticket and often he would also get a voucher for food and drinks at the airport which was enough for more than just him. From that weekend he would end up with between 20 & 40 RTs tickets which we would sell and have enough "spending money" for the school year. I don't think that anything like this wold work these days.
     
  5. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    This is quite a business model: very creative in exploiting the loopholes in the system.

    Now, of course, the airlines would catch the purchase of multiple "fraudulent" tickets for the same day with their double booking algorithms and cancel them all. They might even try to go after the fraudulent passenger who never intended to take all those flights. I suspect they could also catch it when too many free tickets or vouchers would suddenly appear in someone's account.

    However, at a large airport, you might still be able to do something line this on a smaller scale with different carriers, each associated with a few tickets that are mutually consistent. It wouldn't be nearly as lucrative, but different airlines tend not to communicate with each other or cross check, especially if you're careful about codeshares and the use of FF numbers.
     
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  6. Billiken
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    Billiken Silver Member

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    A few years ago two Philadelphia police officers that worked at PHL started doing the scheme of buying fully refundable tickets on what were likely overbooked/oversold flights. (They did this on their days off.) They would cancel the booking if vols were not needed. If they did volunteer and get compensated, they would then cancel/refund the ticket and sell the voucher.
    Obviously, they got caught and were charged with theft and fraud.
    IIRC they definitely were fired and I think they were prosecuted.
     
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  7. slice19
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    slice19 Silver Member

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    We fell into a bump situation Christmas 2009 going from FRA to BOS on Dec 18 (I think, point is it was enough in advance of the holiday I would never have expected the bump). There was a weather issue that closed LHR and CDG so many passengers were rerouted through FRA and the airlines wanted to get backed up PAX on the planes so they offered ticked passengers bumps. Ironically, no one wanted the bump so only 4 PAX in total volunteered and many of the strandeds didn't get on. Compensation in the EU is 600 EUR per person if you have to fly a day later which covered the AI cost of our tickets, plus we got a hotel room for the night as well as dinner and breakfast vouchers for the hotel. On our return we volunteered again which resulted in a rerouting through ROM (and lost luggage) with a 1 hour delayed arrival and compensation of 300 EUR per person. This was all luck. Any time in the future when we anticipated a bump the situation never arose. We have also been lucky with an Easter bump (2010)on the same route which resulted in a routing through MUC, 2 hour delay, 300 EUR and lost luggage. It's a nice deal in Europe, I don't imagine you would get the same benefits looking for a bump in the US much like you don't get the same in flight benefits.
    Hope that helps you decide but I don't think your situation is viable with larger planes (A380) and higher prices, I have not seen any bumps in 2011 despite flying around both new years and easter this year.
     
  8. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Christmas 2009 and 2010 offered some very crazy weather in/out of LHR..I was fortunate to make it out and back on the right days, although weather in ATL last Christmas created some chaos and I re-routed through MSP. While the weather could end up being perfectly fine, it could be a really expensive evolution...especially if you end up needing to pay for your own hotels, etc. On my last bump (ATL-LHR in June), I think DM status really affected having a good outcome...

    It also depends on your flexibility and the days you want to travel. Even if the weather cooperates, it could just end up being a very full flight where they do not need volunteers...then a lot of money spent to be crammed into Y.

    :)robin
     
  9. craz
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    craz Silver Member

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    also if flights are CXed due to WX then the passengers are put onto the next flight that has room, no VDBing to take on SBYs or any non-Confirmed passengers.

    Once @ ORD was booked on the last AA flight to LGA that day almost every flight was CXed except the 1st 2 that morning and the last 1 of the day (which we had seats on) there must have been a waitlist of several hundred people and the GA kept making the announcements we dont need any Vols. My friend said lets see if we can sell our seats, I said about the only ones that will buy them are the 1st 2 people on the Waitlist since AA wont let just anyone take the seats, it will be apx 2 or 3 days until there is any space and the Hotel will be out of our pocket, as would any change fees or finding our way back to LGA

    its true that at times they will confirm a person on a flight that is already full expecting no-shows etc, but at times they also CX doing that. Not such a Slam Dunk as people think. A btter choice is to do as those 2 cops did @ PHL buy full fare tkts and then CX them either way. But the carriers are wise to this so you might score 1 time or twice before they may catch on, but you may not score at all only 1 person needed, or the GA wants a person who has a local address etc etc .
     
  10. BackSlash

    BackSlash Silver Member

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    It sounds like the thread consensus is that bump running is too unpredictable to be profitable anymore.

    Pity....
     
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  11. alohastephen

    alohastephen Gold Member

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    So they went through airport security, asked if volunteers were needed at the counter, then turned around to go home ?

    That sure takes some big kahunas to attempt (even once).
     
  12. Believe me I am the person looking for the most likely to be bumped flights, full flights (seeing what seats are still available,) etc. I am headed to OGG Thursday and I hope to get a bump on the way back as it's OGG > LAX > DFW > DTW Hoping one of those legs I'll get a bump.

    Even for Christmas I made sure to take a flight with 2 legs instead of direct. Best story was in 2008 I was flying from LEX to DTW and gave up my seat 3 different times! For a total of $900 vouchers on NWA.

    ALWAYS take the voucher not a RT ticket. The RT tickets have blackout dates and restrictions. Vouchers you can pretty much use whenever you want.

    Be sure to get there early, and be sure to ask if the flight is full and if so, put your name on the list for volunteers. I had a guy push me out of the way once to be a volunteer and I missed out on a $300 voucher. I was pretty mad!

    Really summer is a better time to get bumped. More than holidays even. Travel in the summer on Fri or Mon. LAS on a Sunday night? That's a good one to get bumped cause everyone is getting out of there to go home and get back to work.

    Good luck!
     
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  13. davef139

    davef139 Gold Member

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    If you ask me its not a HORRIBLE idea, but coming from LHR it seems wasteful. even is flights WX, oddds are your bumpage opportunity the next day will increase greatly.

    I guess the real thing is are you ok spending the money to fly across the atlantic for fun and no return but possibly a bad mileage cpm
     

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