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Money Tip: Checking Your Gate Early Can Pay-Off Big

This weekend I learned a big lesson: Visiting your plane's gate long before you're expected to board can pay-off big time. While I usually avoid sitting around at my gate waiting to board, a ticket telling me that no seat had been assigned made visiting the gate unavoidable. The airline attendants were looking for volunteers to be bumped from the over-sold flight, and my fiancé and I agreed that if the wait was three hours or less we'd volunteer our seats.

The wait until the next flight was exactly three hours, and we were each rewarded with a $400 voucher and meal vouchers for the time we'd be in the airport. With a busy travel schedule heading in to the end of the year, the collective $800 will certainly help with those expenses. The vouchers are good for one year and are transferable to other travelers, and that kind of flexibility ensures the vouchers won't go to waste. So, next time you're facing a lengthy layover, stop by the gate before you go and grab a bite to eat — it could present you with a money making opportunity.

Have you ever volunteered to be bumped from your flight in exchange for vouchers?


Join The Conversation
livyourlife livyourlife 8 years
A couple weeks ago, some friends and I were flying from Amsterdam to the U.S., and the flight was way overbooked but my friend (who was performing the next morning) talked her way into getting us on the flight although personally I would rather have gotten a voucher... we'd left Paris at 5am that morning and had been on the go all day and I just wanted some down time and something to eat! :P lol
baybug baybug 8 years
I always show up early and this type of thing never happens to me!
aylee aylee 8 years
I haven't been in that situation. But if I did, I'd probably volunteer to be bumped unless I have an appt or meeting to catch. Thanks for the tip!
Entertainment Entertainment 8 years
I wouldn't say I "volunteered" -- it was more like "uh, some of you aren't getting on this plane; sorry?" -- but I only got in three hours late and the vouchers made the annoyance well worth it. In my case, it really helped to be at the gate early, because if we hadn't noticed the long line of people I'm not sure we would have known what was going on.
Smart-Living Smart-Living 8 years
valancyjane- I showed up an hour before the flight versus a half hour before when boarding begins. They asked us to wait until everyone had checked in for the flight before telling us we'd definitely be bumped, but the fact that we were first to volunteer gave us high chances.
valancyjane valancyjane 8 years
About the headline: I don't think this has very much to do with getting to the gate early. Usually they don't know until closer to the flight time how many people have checked in (and therefore how many seats they're short). It would be a rare situation in which they knew hours ahead of time that they'd have to bump people. I had a chance to get bumped last week, and I would have taken it, but they didn't need me after all. Too bad, I had a long list of places I would have gone with the free ticket!
amybdk amybdk 8 years
Same here, Jyramiah. I've never been so "lucky" to be able to do this. Someday maybe I'll score big!
Jyramiah Jyramiah 8 years
I've wanted to, but everytime I had to go on a plane this year, I absolutely HAD to be on that flight.
Angelica Angelica 8 years
That is a good tip if you have the time! I did that once in college when I had a bunch of studying to do. The alone time in the airport helped me focus and I got a free trip to visit my friend out of it!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i've given up my seat in the past and i'd do it again given the right incentive and the right schedule. i think that for the most part - i don't care when i get places, unless i'm going for a certain reason, so if they are going to offer me vouchers, money or something like that - i don't really see any reason not to make someone's travel plans better.
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
Great tip! Also, if your early at the airport say 2 hours before your flight and get there and there is an earlier flight with extra seats, they will let you get on and go on the earlier flight. This has happened to me twice over the last two months.
syako syako 8 years
Good tip! One time my family was traveling to Hawaii and we were presented the option of taking an extra domestic flight (we went to Minn. instead of straight to Seattle) and we all (there were six of us) got first class seats on the trip from Seattle to Hawaii. Boy, was it worth it. All in all, we arrived in Hawaii two hours later than we would have - but after the warm cookies and milk in first class, we could have cared less!!
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