While flight reviews are quite common, this trip report will offer something a little different: A review of the bumping process as experienced in early May 2022 at Frankfurt Airport. While traveling from Naples (Italy) to Vilnius (Lithuania) via Frankfurt, the second leg of our journey was overbooked, forcing Lufthansa gate agents to seek volunteers to take the next flight. This will be an account of what happened and a review of the experience.
As is most often the case, the bumping experience begins at the boarding gate. Photo: Chris Loh | Simple Flying
It was in early May that my wife and I made a trip to Italy and were headed back home to Vilnius. Flying with Lufthansa, we had to connect in Frankfurt and were eager to board the flight. After a few hours at one of Lufthansa’s business lounges, we headed to our gate and waited patiently.
Just before boarding was about to begin, an announcement was made stating that the flight had been overbooked and that the airline was looking for volunteers to be bumped off the flight. In exchange, Lufthansa would provide the following:
- A night of hotel accommodation
- Buffet dinner
- Buffet breakfast
- And the grand prize, €250 cash per person
Knowing that neither my wife nor I had anything to do the next day, we talked it over. It admittedly wasn’t something that had crossed her mind, but I highlighted the fact that we would be €500 richer for our inconvenience. We agreed to volunteer ourselves for the deal on the condition that the replacement flight would not be too far into the future.
Volunteering is one thing, waiting to see if everyone shows up for their flight is something else. Photo: Chris Loh | Simple Flying
Waiting for boarding to finish
Walking up to the gate agent, we could hear the woman ahead of us inquiring about the offer to be bumped. Whatever information she was seeking, the answer must not have been favorable as we apparently were the first passengers to volunteer ourselves. Asking about the replacement flight, we were informed it would be the next day at 10:20, allowing us to get into Vilnius at 13:20 local time.
Accepting the offer and volunteering ourselves, we were told that we had to wait until boarding was completed. Indeed, if anyone had missed their connection or was stuck in security beyond the airline’s acceptable limits, we could be placed back on the flight. With this being the situation, my wife and I both agreed that we were in a fairly neutral position – that we would be happy to get home sooner but also happy to be bumped and compensated.
We were informed that the aircraft was waiting for 12 more passengers. Waiting and watching, we counted down the frantic travelers rushing towards the gate. One small group here, another small group there, until we were down to the last two or three. I’m not sure of the precise number, but I believe the gate was initially closed with one empty seat on the aircraft, having encountered the one unfortunate traveler who had a delayed flight from London. Interestingly, the aircraft would eventually take off with two empty seats as we witnessed a passenger get booted off the flight for not wearing a mask on the bus that headed to the remote stand.
With the gate officially closed, we were then given the details of our offer. This consisted of the following:
- Hotel voucher and details on how to get there
- Boarding passes for the replacement flight
- A payment transfer via card, being told that it would take several days for the transaction to come through
The hotel stay
Our hotel for the night would be the Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport. This airport was located off-site from the airport and required a journey by train/metro. Thankfully, this was a single stop – although it would cost us about €5 each and a little bit of walking between the station and the hotel.
Our hotel for the night: The Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Chris Loh | Simple Flying
While I won’t go in to too much detail on the hotel stay, I can report that the room itself was fairly comfortable, clean, and quiet.
The meals, however, were something else. Having arrived at around 22:00, the “buffet dinner” consisted of extremely dried-up lasagna that had clearly been sitting out for hours. Additionally, we were only allowed one beverage, with any more drinks costing extra. Funny enough, there was a whole section of seating with a sign in front saying “Lufthansa canceled flights,” indicating that this was the main ‘hub’ for the airline’s bumped passengers! Breakfast, at least, was a much better experience!
Buffet meals at the Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport Photo: Chris Loh | Simple Flying
Checking out and taking off
The next morning, we checked out of the hotel and inquired about their airport shuttle service. We learned that this would come at a cost of €4 per person. We also learned that the shuttle to the hotel was complimentary – something that the Lufthansa gate agent failed to mention.
Taking the hotel’s shuttle bus, we swiftly arrived at Frankfurt’s T1 and made our way through security and towards the gate. The flight itself was on-time, smooth and uneventful – just like the outbound trip.
We had to take the people mover to get to our gate the next day. Photo: Chris Loh | Simple Flying
Final thoughts and reflections
With the money appearing on my card just three days after the flight bumping, I would have to say that my first experience of being bumped off a flight and being put in a hotel wasn’t too bad. While I personally pride myself on being able to tolerate bad food, the dried-up lasagna really put this to the test!
While Lufthansa gate agents were courteous, I think they should have mentioned the free hotel shuttle bus as an option. Depending on schedule times, it could have been faster and more convenient than the train, and of course, free. The gate agents also failed to ask us about (or at least explain) seating preference for the replacement flight, as we were assigned a middle and an aisle seat. I would have preferred a window seat, and if the flight was too full to allow for this it would have been nice to know.
A number of people we shared the experience with noted that we could have asked for more – or more could have been offered if no one had accepted the initial deal. In retrospect, we obviously would have loved a larger payout but were actually quite satisfied with the offer. I am curious, of course, about what would have happened if no one volunteered and how much more the airline might have offered.
Have you ever been bumped off a flight? How did the experience compare? And if you had nowhere to be the next day, how much would it take for you to volunteer to be bumped? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!
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