Have a travel related question? Post it here, and I’ll do my best to answer it as quickly as possible.
While anyone can comment on regular blog post, registration is required in order to post a question in this space. Creating your account is free, and you'll be able to see when your question is answered, as well as like comments from other users. And of course, you'll earn status points for offering helpful answers!
This space is intended to be more of a community as well, so please jump in and share tips!
Is booking oversold flights abusive? / Voucher System
I’m new to the whole “flying a few times every week” thing, roughly year 1.5 (MY GOD THE FIRST YEAR WITHOUT STATUS). I read this website a lot and I noticed something today in a post that really scared me! Am I the asshole here, or alternatively, is there some magic way I can book oversold flights that is abusive that I’m oblivious to? Also, I do not want to be abusive. I want to play by all their rules and avoid stupid loopholes that draw attention to myself. I like Delta most but live in Phx and fly cheapest (but NOT SW), so I’m an American Girl, like Tom Petty, except more afraid I’ll have angry mechanics.
Here’s the deal, and one anecdote: I always, without exception, book the earliest flight or a lil plane that’s likely to be overweight. It happens often enough that I view it as a supplementary income (I book flights a month out, business reimburses me for the cost of the flight, most times it’s as little as an hour wait for the next one). I made $450 an hour on Monday!
Is this abusive? Will this get me kicked out of the loyalty program?! (NOOOooooooooooooo). American First Class = Delta row 30 in terms of comfort and service. Oh my god, do I have to declare vouchers on my taxes as income? I super did not do that last year.
I never thought twice about this until I saw a post about Delta revoking someone’s status and someone replying that they got kicked out of something or other for using too many oversold flights. THEN there’s yet another piece in some blog about the time AA gave out unlimited passes then took them back. I’m still not even Exec Plat (my father passed in the summer and I wasn’t working or flying for a few months). I’m well past the $ required, so an AAirpass isn’t really that outrageous of an idea; I’ll spend $15k with them this year, so $10K I will absolutely use for Exec Plat status & club access seems like an unquestionable yes. With hotels, rental cars, food, I’m usually looking at 10k expenses a month, so I could cover it but it’d be tight. BUT I really don’t want to do that if I get banned for using too many vouchers, cuz I love voucherz, VOUCHERS FOR LIFE! OVER SELL MORE PLANES!
I also thought this was totally fine because one time American gave me a LOT of money like this – First flight of the day, holiday week, lots of distraught families and college kids, over sold flight, I’m the first volunteer, shes delighted I’m not angry and can tell I’m hungry for $. The next flight is in an hour. She’s working it. Once she prints my voucher she tells me it’s oversold too, with another flight in an hour, and asks if I want on the volunteer list. I certainly do. She looks harried and stressed but a little less so after I want it. First on the list. $625. The third flight was also oversold. She put me first on the list. $650. The fourth flight would have put me in after dark and didn’t wanna drive in the dark so I made $641 an hour that day. If it wasn’t cool to do that why did she do that for me? I know the woman working the counter Sundays at 3 am and when she sees me she moves to the spot to take my voucher and book my flight; she even knows what seats I like (best luggage agent ever).
This is really throwing a wrench in my Lonely Holidaze plan to afford a summer vacation where I book earliest flight hub to hub on major travel days not caring when or if I leave. I’ll never get enough EQMs to be Executive Platinum 🙁
Hi Magenta, and welcome.
The short answer is that booking the earliest flight of the day and hoping it is oversold, and taking a voucher, will not get you kicked out of AAdvantage.
The longer answer: as long as the AAgent isn’t doing anything wrong, I don’t think it is an issue. She knows you fly early, but are also willing to take the bump. As long as you do fly the original flight(s) if they are not oversold, then what you are doing does not violate AA’s condition of carriage nor AAdvantage’s T&Cs (that i am aware of).
The recent Delta story seems to be missing some facts. It says s/he was using the SFO construction waiver to change times / itinerary. Also, Delta wrote that the member was often calling the elite line and asking for / getting exceptions to rules, etc. The AA Airpass story was a somewhat unique case.