Are you willing to volunteer your seat on an over booked flight in exchange for a round trip ticket?
Last weekend I flew Spirit Airlines from Las Vegas to Chicago for the Thanksgiving holiday. The flight was over sold so they were offering a round trip ticket and a $7 food voucher to volunteers who would give up their seat. The next flight was departing an hour later, but Spirit had to put volunteers on United Airlines.
I decided to give up my seat in exchange for a round trip ticket. It was my lucky day! This has actually happened to me a few times in the past (not on Spirit) and I’ve been able to take a few extra trips because of the airline’s mistake. I travel with carry on luggage so I can be flexible.
I was excited because for the inconvenience of flying a nicer airline, changing gates, and arriving an hour later I received a round trip ticket that I can use on a future flight anywhere Spirit flies. The stipulations are that the ticket needs to be booked within 60 days and travel has to be done in the year.
When I went to the airport for my return flight home to Vegas, I had issues printing my boarding pass from the kiosk. I went to the Spirit ticket counter for assistance.
The agent couldn’t find my return ticket from Chicago to Las Vegas! He said that I didn’t have a reservation. Yikes! I told him “I purchased a round trip ticket, how could this be the case?” I explained to him that when I flew out of Vegas, Spirit was looking for volunteers so I gave up my seat in exchange for a round trip ticket.
What I learned was that since I didn’t board my original flight on Spirit, the return ticket was automatically canceled. The shift supervisor at the ticket counter said that Spirit’s computer system thinks that if you don’t board your flight within 24 hours you won’t need a return ticket. That is why Spirit’s computer system automatically cancels the ticket.
The agent that originally issued me the round trip credit voucher should have noted in my reservation that I volunteered to fly out on another flight with a different airline, but to still keep my return ticket.
After another 40 minutes of being inconvenienced, I was able to get the situation resolved. Spirit has redeemed themselves!
In the past two opportunities where I’ve had given up my seat in exchange for a round trip ticket, my return flights have been fine because I flew with the same airlines.
Lesson: If you volunteer your seat on an oversold flight for a round trip ticket and the airline puts you on another flight especially a different carrier, confirm with the agent that your return ticket is still okay. This is supposed to be the airlines responsibility, but cover your ass to make sure things go smoothly.
• Would you volunteer your seat for a round trip ticket?
• Have you experienced a situation similar to this or worse?
Category: Travel tips