American Airlines Just Made a Sneaky Change to Its Voluntary Bumping Program

American Airlines plane
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American Airlines is changing its procedure for voluntary bumping from overbooked flights — and it means you might not end up with the best offers.

Previously, when an American Airlines flight was overbooked, passengers could volunteer to be bumped, stating a number for how much they would like to be compensated. Everyone who volunteered for compensation would be offered the same amount so a gate agent wouldn’t have to deal with different amounts for different customers.

But now, American Airlines has changed its plan so each bumped passenger will receive the exact level of compensation they volunteered for, even if another passenger is receiving a lot more.

In the previous situation, in an example noted by The Points Guy, if a flight was oversold by three people and four people volunteered to be bumped — at $150, $200, $250 and $300 respectively— three people would be offered $250 to bump themselves from the flight. If one of those people declined the offer, the amount would increase to $300 for everyone. But in this new scenario, the person who volunteered $150 will receive a voucher for $150, the person who volunteered for $200 would receive $200 and so on.

The change comes months after American Airlines introduced a feature in its app where passengers could volunteer to be bumped from their flights. This “silent” method eliminates the need for gate agents to get on the loudspeaker and announce compensation levels. It also prevents passengers from comparing how big their compensation is.

The Points Guy reported the airline’s gate agents are now encouraged to “have individual conversations with customers to discuss the arranged protect and voucher amounts,” and will only make loudspeaker announcements if there aren't enough volunteers in the app.

Additionally, American will look into preventing compensation altogether and simply reroute a passenger's trip. The airline is also looking to get rid of paper vouchers by 2020.

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