Beware American Airlines’ New Online Bump Compensation Feature

It's not in your wallet's best interest

Beware American Airlines’ New Online Bump Compensation Feature

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There’s nothing like a little overbooked auction at the airport gate. Watching an elderly lady calmly win $800 to spend another night in Fort Lauderdale is an excellent way to pass the hours before boarding a flight.

For American Airlines flights, though, the bulk of that process could soon play out online. Effective today, the airline’s mobile app rolled out a service through which passengers volunteer ahead of time (a full 24 hours) for bump compensation.

The supposed benefits to this feature — planning and money — are a mirage. You’ll now know ahead of time that you might be staying in town an extra night. But you still have to show up to the airport to find out if you “won” the bid. Plus, American isn’t actually offering cash. It’s offering travel vouchers for alternative flights in the $200-500 range online. Only the lowest bid will actually get his or her name called at the gate, and it seems likely someone will click the $200 button.

Which basically means … American is saving money on its overbooking problem. Instead of doling out (untaxed) cash, they’re forking over diluted flight coupons. We recommend avoiding the service, unless you find yourself in a pinch.

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