I don't fly often, but when I do, I often hear calls for volunteers to get "bumped" off my overbooked flight. There's always a tempting reward offered, but I have yet to step forward for it. Instead, I just want to get where I'm going, with minimal inconvenience. I'm clearly an impatient Fool ... and also not the smartest one. Consider the following wonderful example of making the most of getting bumped, from longtime Fool Community member Hunzi.
She, her husband, and two kids all flew to Disney World a few years ago, and had a great time. On their way home, they got bumped off their flight: "They gave us 4 x $400 in vouchers, gave us dinner while we waited, and then flew us home, arriving about 15 minutes later than our original flight."
So did those vouchers pay for another trip later? Yes, but they also paid for so much more: "They were only supposed to be good for 1 year, but I figured out if you used them, that they reissued the balance for another year." Hunzi and family used the vouchers for another trip to Disney World in 2001, "when some post 9/11 bargains appeared, and we used more for a 4th trip in 2002."
Got that? She's still not done!
We still had about $500 left at the end of 2003, but didn't have any trips on the horizon. I thought of it as an emergency flight fund. When the year was close to being over, I'd buy a refundable ticket for 11 months in the future, then refund just before the flight for a voucher good for another year. Somewhere in there I used about $100 of it for a cheapo ticket to Dallas. I just used the last of the voucher today. I returned my refundable ticket and bought two non-refundable tickets to Orlando for September (price matched to a SouthWest Ding fare of $79/each way). [my daughter] and I are going on a GirlzOnly trip to where else? Disney World.
Now for the total tally. Hunzi ended her post saying: "So thank you American Airlines for 7 years of free flights! The vouchers gave us 3 vacations and a business trip I wouldn't have normally taken."
What to do
What should you and I do now? Well, we should consider jumping up and waving our arms the next time we hear a call for bumping volunteers. Doing so can save you a lot of money, which you can use to save for your future, have fun today, or perhaps pay down your debt. Getting bumped might also permit you to take some trips you wouldn't have expected to be able to afford.
On the other hand, you can always invest your savings. To buy into travel-related companies like cruise operator Carnival
Another lesson here is to look into all the rules and regulations involved in deals like these. Many other people might not have made as thorough use of the vouchers as Hunzi did.
Learn more in these articles:
- Travel Off the Beaten Path and Save
- Don't Get Fleeced by Fees on Vacation
- Five Tips for a Foolish Trip
- Reap Road-Trip Riches
Finally, you'll find lots of advice on traveling efficiently, inexpensively, and with minimum hassles in our Travel Center. Why not take a short trip there?
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Try any one of our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.