How to get as much as possible

How to get as much as possible
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Disrupted flights have become the new normal.

So far this year, 23% of all U.S. domestic and international flights have been delayed or disrupted, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware. On the Friday before July 4th, that number rose to nearly 30%.

That means more paying customers than available seats on planes – and passengers are benefiting by giving up their seats on overbooked planes. amounting to thousands of dollars one piece. But airlines don’t just give you that much money right off the bat, says Willis Orlando, a senior flight expert at Scott’s Cheap Flights. Rather, he says, you need to negotiate — and he has a few tips for any enterprising passenger willing to sacrifice their itinerary for a maximum amount of money.

The airline’s offer usually begins with a voice over an intercom. If you haven’t boarded the plane yet, you’ll hear a gate agent offer you an amount of money to give up your seat. If you are already on the plane it will be a flight attendant looking for volunteers to get up and go back to the airport.

Orlando’s first tip: Express your interest quickly, but never take the airline’s introductory price.

“If you’re flexible and want to put the extra money in your pocket…walk up front and ask what the last person gets,” Orlando says. “It’s always the sweetest offer.”

You can also sweeten other parts of your rebooked experience. Orlando says airlines are often willing to let you into their exclusive lounges or let you select a premium seat in the front of the plane on your rebooked flight. All you have to do is ask.

“They want guaranteed numbers…almost no matter what,” Orlando says. “If you opt out voluntarily, the negotiating ball is in your court.”

According to Orlando, airports in major cities like Chicago, Washington DC and Los Angeles are more likely to experience flight disruptions than others because they are frequent stopover hubs. The airlines that crash involuntary passengers the most are Frontier, Southwest and American Airlines, he adds.

The above-average dollar numbers are likely for two reasons, Orlando says: to ensure the plane takes off on time and to protect the airline’s reputation. When not enough passengers voluntarily disembark from a flight, airlines have to forcefully “nudge” passengers, often resulting in a customer service nightmare.

“If a plane is delayed two hours because of problems getting people off the plane, there aren’t enough crews and pilots to make sure it doesn’t go through their entire network,” Orlando says. “Before the pandemic, they didn’t risk their entire network crashing if a flight or two went haywire.”

If you’re violently pushed, at least you’ll get compensation: Federal law requires the airline to pay you up to four times your fare, up to $1,550, depending on when your rescheduled flight departs.

Planes tend to be overbooked due to airline optimism, Orlando says. This is especially true this year: when spring comes, airlines plan a large number of flights in anticipation of high demand for summer travel.

That demand prediction came true, Orlando says, but the airlines didn’t predict any other problem: a Lack of available employees to occupy these flights. Some crew members who were furloughed or laid off during the peak of the pandemic did not return and others are missing flights due to Covid-19 infections while in the country extended omicron wave.

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