My Alaska Airlines Bump: There’s a First Time for Everything

There’s a first time for everything, and recently on an Alaska Airlines flight, I volunteered to be bumped. It’s not that I’ve never heard the call for volunteers before. We all have. But something about this time made me ask myself if now was the time and this was the opportunity to do it. After all, can a bona fide travel blogger NOT have a bump experience to talk about? Given the crazy day I ended up having, I’ll never forget my first time!

I was originally on a morning Alaska Airlines nonstop flight from San Diego to Boston. I’ve taken this flight before but always in the winter months. Apparently, since it’s the only nonstop of the day to Boston, it can get crowded. I heard the call for volunteers before we started boarding the flight.

Great Circle Mapper: San Diego (SAN) to Boston (BOS)

Must have been the mood I was in, and as I said, I’ve never even enquired about a bump before, so I thought I’d go to the desk and ask how it would work. Alaska Airlines was offering a $400 Alaska Airlines travel voucher, meal vouchers, and booking me on a Delta flight that would have an hour layover in Detroit. The flight would leave San Diego in 3 hours and arrive in Boston about 5 hours later. So I put my math hat on and asked myself if 5 hours was worth a $400 Alaska Airlines travel voucher. Sure, why not! I had basically given up a few evening hours in Boston of walking around and getting settled into the Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor (read my review). The switch to Delta went smoothly and I headed to the Airspace Lounge in San Diego, which I have access to because of my American Express Platinum Charge Card. I’m at this lounge often, and find it an easy place to spend time and get work done.

Great Circle Mapper: San Diego (SAN) to Detroit (DTW) to Boston (BOS)

I don’t get to fly Delta that often, so I was looking forward to these flights. Alaska Airlines assigned me a seat in Delta Comfort+ and it was a comfortable and roomy economy seat. The crew was helpful and chatty. This was the first domestic flight I’ve ever had where the flight attendant actually cleaned the bathroom floor before I went in, when I opened the door and she saw the floor was wet! The flight leaving Detroit was delayed about an hour due to thunderstorms, but eventually we got to Boston. Then things got interesting!

When I left San Diego, the Alaska Airlines staff told me to go to Alaska Airlines when I got to Boston to pick up my checked bag (my bag was checked on the Alaska Airlines SAN-BOS flight). So after landing in Boston, that’s what I did. Boston is super busy during the day, but at night, it’s QUIET. Delta is 2 terminals away from Alaska Airlines, so after a long walk, I got to the Alaska Airlines counter and there was No. One. There. Alaska Airlines barely has a presence in Boston, so there was one small desk with absolutely no information posted at all (good move for them to buy Virgin America, at least in Boston).

I’ll spare you all the details, but after asking around to anyone I saw who looked like they worked at the airport, and going behind the baggage claim areas and yelling, “Hello, anybody home?”, I decided it was time to give up and head to the Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor. One person who worked at the airport told me the Alaska Airlines rep had gone home and would be back at about 5am.

Was I upset? Sure. I wondered how could they not wait so we could fetch our luggage or make some other arrangement with us. As I waited for the hotel shuttle to the hotel, it occurred to me that since Alaska Airlines was on west coast time, maybe I could reach someone there and find out some information from them. I got through to Alaska Airlines and a very helpful agent handled my call. Now mind you, I talked with her (and was on hold from time to time) as we tried to figure things out from the time I waited for the shuttle, to check-in at the hotel, and still for about another 40 minutes while I was in my hotel room. It was now about 1:30am Boston time. The wind-up was that the Alaska Airlines people would be back at the airport at 4:45am, so the Alaska Airlines agent left a message for them, and suggested I call them at 4:45am as well. She gave me their direct phone number.

The staff at the front desk of the Hyatt were wonderful and had given us huge bags of sundries and slippers and whatever else they could find to make us comfortable. I went back to the front desk and asked them if they’d mind making the call to Alaska Airlines at 4:45am and requesting Alaska Airlines deliver the bags to the Hyatt. They said no problem, they’d call. We agreed that if they didn’t see me by 8:30am, they would come and wake me. I set an alarm too, but you never know! When I woke up, I found a note under my door that the Hyatt front desk had called Alaska Airlines every 15 minutes starting at 4:45am, but only got voice mail, so they left messages. Great customer service… from Hyatt, not Alaska Airlines :( I called Alaska Airlines and got the same voice message. I decided I better get over to the airport and see what was going on.

When I was on the hotel shuttle heading to the airport, I got a call from the Alaska Airlines baggage guy at Boston and he said he found my luggage over at Delta and had no idea how it got there because it came in on Alaska. He was going to get it from Delta, and he told me to meet him at the Alaska Airlines check-in counter. I told him I was on my way! The Alaska Airlines staff at Boston was a very nice, but no one knew what happened, and the reunion with my luggage was a welcomed way to start my day. Alaska Airlines did give me a $50 voucher for the inconvenience. But wait, the return trip on Alaska Airlines gets even more interesting, and I end up with a new piece of luggage!

Please share your volunteering to get bumped stories in the comments below. I’m curious to hear if my experience was typical!

11 thoughts on “My Alaska Airlines Bump: There’s a First Time for Everything

    1. Shelli Post author

      I agree, David. People will think I got the service from the Hyatt because I have status, but I’m not easy to fool. These people are genuinely nice. I found customer service in Boston, no matter where I went, to be very good. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. Brant

    Several years ago I used to travel for business every week to at least two and sometimes four different cities in the USA and Canada. I always took the red eye which, while not a popular choice among travelers, was often overbooked because of issues with earlier flights that backed up during the day to the last flight out. I made a science of getting bumped as often as possible because I had a great deal of flexibility in my schedule. Over a period of years I was issued tens of thousands of dollars in voucher for travel, food, hotel accommodations and lounge access. When you choose this option you have to be prepared for the unexpected because it WILL happen. Dodgy contract hotels if you have to spend the night, long waits for transportation because of the late hour, lost luggage, not to mention that you will need to remember to contact rental car and hotels at your destination so you aren’t charged for “no show”. However, all in all, I learned a lot and it was very profitable. I must also mention that there were certainly some people who were real life savers and took mercy on a weary traveler. If an upgrade is available at the contract hotel when you arrive and you ask for it, you will likely get it, but keep in mind that they will have you out on the first flight, so you won’t be there enjoying it for long and without a change of clothes it can be a long day.

    1. Shelli Post author

      Great story, Brant. Thanks for taking the time to write. As you said, I would think late night bumps would be a whole different ball game. How late I would get into Boston was definitely a consideration. Taking a bump seemed like a good lesson in patience, going with the flow, and using humor. If the Hyatt team wasn’t as accommodating as they turned out to be it would have been much harder. I’m sure you enjoyed all those vouchers :)

  2. Jennifer Hoffman

    My dad worked for TWA when I was a kid. He always told us when we grew up to not check luggage, if we could help it.
    Several years ago, hubby and I were on an overbooked flight from ORD to JFK. They needed volunteers. No one spoke up. My dad had said to always volunteer to be bumped, if possible, but never take their first offer. I mumbled to hubby, we’ll get bumped, because you get some great compensation, but told him to wait, until I give the signal.
    The stew offered $400 voucher and a seat on the next flight, departing in an hour. No takers. Next offer was $800 and a guaranteed seat, plus upgrade, in one hour. I jumped up. SOLD!!
    Hubby and I sat first class, each of us had an $800 voucher and we got to JFK an hour later. We only used carryon, so there was no fuss with checked bags.
    I love being bumped voluntarily.

    1. Shelli Post author

      HI Jennifer, I see I need to learn your bumping OK signal for future bumps :) Your father taught you well! Good story. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Shelli Post author

      Given my inexperience with bumping I thought about asking for more, so I get your point. But the confusion at the gate when all this is happening creates a crazy scene. Thanks for seeing the humor, John!

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