Affordable Travel Guide to Free Airline Tickets

Flying free for flexible, savvy travelers

Free Airline Tickets

Every major airline follows the same booking practice and you can take advantage of it if you can be flexible about your times (not necessarily dates, but times), and end up with a “free” airline ticket. You might even make a profit!

Airline reservation policies generally involve overbooking any given flight by approximately 10%. The reason is simple: about that percentage of seats are normally “no-show” status, in other words, people either don’t take the flight they have booked (yes, and paid for) for whatever reasons, or they miss the flight due to being late, going to the wrong terminal, a sudden change of travel plans, or they were too sick to travel and had to change plans at the last minute.

Because airlines have a business objective — making money — they undertake the overbooking practice rather than having seats left empty. The problem is that sometimes that anticipated 10% of no-shows actually do turn up, and the flight is officially in over-booked status. This is where you, if you don’t care which flight you are on (no, you don’t have to alter your destination, just the time and possibly the day that you fly), can get a free airline ticket.

When an aircraft is overbooked, an offer is announced, usually over the intercom in the departure lounge, for passengers willing to take a later flight. If you are fast to the desk, and flexible about your travel times, you will often (if not always) find yourself on a later flight and with a travel voucher for a set fee (it could be more than you paid for your ticket!) or a coupon for a specific flight. This equals free airline travel! You have paid for your initial ticket, but because the airline has paid you to travel at a different departure time, your next flight is free.

People who know this system and realize that overbooking occurs more during peak travel seasons and high traffic days of the week, often approach the departure lounge desk and notify the airline’s agent that “if” the flight happens to be overbooked, they would be willing, for suitable compensation, to take a later flight. I really peak holiday periods, like Christmas, there may not be an available seat on a flight until the following day, and you could find yourself put up free in a luxury hotel for the night, together with a dinner voucher!

The one possible downside to relying upon this method for getting free airline tickets is that it seldom works for certain if there are more than just you traveling. It can happen that two people traveling together manage to nab “bumped” later flights and a travel voucher or cash, but it’s less likely. It’s worth a shot for a free airline ticket.

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