Question about getting bumped on United

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When United overbooks, when you check in online, sometimes you are asked if you will consider being voluntarily bumped.  Usually there are no details regarding exact compensation or on what flight you will be rebooked.

My question is... if I check "yes", that I am willing to be voluntarily bumped, and I get to the airport and I don't like the compensation offered or the rebooked flight, can I then refuse to be voluntarily bumped?

I'm always willing to consider being bumped... but depending on the compensation and the rescheduled flight, I might not want to... so I'm always reluctant to check "yes" on check-in for fear they will bump me regardless.  Can I refuse the offer once at the gate and claim my reserved seat?

Thanks for your input.

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Voulunteer at the gate.

This is something that you could call their customer service phone number about, and they would probably give you an accurate answer, since it's a procedural question.

You could also ask on the website flyertalk.com.

Thanks, I will try that

You can call all you want but mantra on flyertalk is HUACA (hang up and call again) because the answer you get will differ from one agent to another.

1.) Remember in any negotiation you want the other party to state their position first. You putting yourself on the list without hearing the offer first already puts you at a disadvantage. Reason you want to volunteer at the gate is because the offer made to volunteers depends on how bad they need volunteers. If they see a list of volunteers early prior to departure, the offer being made would be lower. Example, they need 5 seats, but volunteer list is 15. They know they can lowball to get 5 off. You and fellow passengers who put their name on the volunteer list before hearing the offer results in the the offer being lower than it would have been.

2.) If for some reason you are late to the gate (traffic, TSA) and had volunteered in advance and indeed get bumped, you just lost your involuntary denied boarding protection. Good luck filing a DOT complaint you were involuntary denied boarding when you checked the "I volunteer to be bumped" checkbox.

avoid the vouchers. They expire in a yr. typically. Wonder if they'll give you miles instead...

needhelpplease said:   avoid the vouchers. They expire in a yr. typically. Wonder if they'll give you miles instead...

Actually I prefer vouchers. I got a tiny bit of compensation last month for a cancelled United flight. I had to fly home the next day from Shanghai. The choice was a $200 voucher or 10,000 miles. I chose the voucher. A no-brainer. They also paid for my hotel, food and ground transportation for that extra day.

I flew home from SFO to LAX two days ago. The Christmas rush has started. At the gate the screen said the flight was overbooked by 27, which was the same as the stand-by list. The offer went from $150 to $300. I just took my flight and didn't play the volunteer game. So much can go wrong with holiday flight madness. I didn't want to get stuck there for days. On the way to SFO there also was a $150 offer to take a later flight. That I also skipped as I had to meet with someone in San Francisco that afternoon. As it turned out, my plane arrived two hours late, but I still made my short meeting.

I'm done flying "the unfriendly skies" of United for at least a few months.

syrauch said:   Can I refuse the offer once at the gate and claim my reserved seat?

Thanks for your input.
 

Selecting "yes" simply adds you to a list of travelers whom United may approach for "Voluntary Denied Boarding / VDB".  It is not a commitment.
You will still be presented with an offer, usually in the form of a travel credit (e-certificate), which can be as pathetic as $150 unless you have "premier" status.  You can decline the offer and insist on taking the flight (or be presented with a more $$ in credit).
If you do intend on playing the VDB lottery, do NOT check your luggage.

syrauch said:   
My question is... if I check "yes", that I am willing to be voluntarily bumped, and I get to the airport and I don't like the compensation offered or the rebooked flight, can I then refuse to be voluntarily bumped?
 

  Yes.
There is still a risk that they could involuntarily bump you, but there's not much harm in having your name on the VDB list.

The kiosk starts asking when it's getting close. Saying yes isn't binding and just puts you in the list. 

Remember back in the PanAm days when I volunteered for an international flight. Voucher was for a free round trip international ticket anywhere...

Got the voucher but 6 months later, PanAm went under

You can still hit some pretty good VDBs even now. Southwest is usually $300 plus your one-way fare for taking a substantial delay. Got it once on a full-fare ticket and it was $800. 

I always daydream about gaming it but airline revenue management is just too smart.

selecting yes, just adds you to a list. if the flight is truly oversold, there are fliers that will up in the gate attendants face the minute they get there looking for the voucher. If they don't get those people, they go down the list of volunteers.

They're supposed to work the list but you don't have any recourse if they just do a PA and take the first responder.

I think if the plane is overfull, they just get the police to drag some random people off the plane

DeGlass said:   
syrauch said:   Can I refuse the offer once at the gate and claim my reserved seat?

 

If you do intend on playing the VDB lottery, do NOT check your luggage.

That would depend entirely on whether I was outbound or on my way home.    

TravelerMSY said:   I always daydream about gaming it but airline revenue management is just too smart.
Many years ago, my wife and I were on our way home through a busy hub on a Friday afternoon.  We volunteered and got two round trip continental US vouchers and were rebooked on a flight about two hours later.  Showed up for that flight, which turned out to be oversold as well.  Volunteered again and received two more vouchers.  By this time, there were no more flights, so we then accepted a hotel room, round trip taxi fare to the hotel, and a couple of dinner vouchers.  Turned out to be a nice little getaway at the end of a busy work week!   

Yes of course check what will be the positive thing that you can get before you agree.



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