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What Is Seat Bumping?

  • avatar
    Jonathan Chum

What is seat bumping? Seat bumping takes place when your seat on a plane is changed to a different location or a different flight.

Importantly, not all forms of seat bumping are bad; however, it can still be frustrating. Particularly for those who do not fly on a regular basis, the process can already be confusing. For example, your gate may change at the last minute, and you find yourself looking at an airport map wondering if you are going to get to the new gate and time. Then, you find out that your seat has been changed as well. If you are sitting in a different location on the airplane, this can be annoying; however, if your seat gets moved to an entirely different flight, this can be downright infuriating. We have flown all over the world, and we have had experience with all of these issues. Therefore, we would like to explain to you why this happens and what you should do.

In this article, we are going to cover seat bumping, why it happens, and what you should do. Learn more below!

How Do I Know if My Seat Has Been Bumped?

First, you need to know if your seat has been bumped. There are several possible ways you may find this out. Some of the most common situations include:

  • Check-In: If you try to check-in, and you are not allowed to book a seat, there is a chance that you may have been bumped to another flight. Even though this may be unusual, you should check with the customer service agent outside the security checkpoint when you get to the airport. If they are not able to assign you a seat at check-in, you may have been bumped. They should tell you immediately if this is the case.
  • At the Gate: There is also a chance that they may announce your name as you are waiting to board the plane. If this is the case, they may inform you that your seat has been changed. You may be given a different seat on the same airplane, or you may have been moved to a different flight entirely.
  • In Transit: Finally, you may also be told that your seat has been changed as you are walking to the gate. They may email you or a text message to let you know that your seat has changed. If this is the case, make sure you know if you are sitting in a different seat on the same airplane or if they have moved you to a different flight.

Before you get too concerned, understand that they cannot move you to a different plane without compensating you. We will cover this later.

Why Is My Seat Bumped?

There are several reasons why your seat may have been bumped. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Your original flight was canceled, and they need to rebook you on another plane
  • They decided to upgrade you to business class or first class for free because they had open seats, and they wanted to sell an extra coach ticket on the same plane
  • You may be unable to sit in an exit row, and they had to switch you to a different row on the plane
  • They may be trying to sit certain family members together, and you may be moved as a result, either to sit with your own family or so that other people can sit together
  • The plane is oversold, and they are unable to provide you with a seat on your original flight

These are just a few of the most common reasons why they may decide to change your seat. Even though there are other possible reasons why a seat bump could occur, these are the most common reasons.

What Should I Do if My Seat Gets Bumped?

If you have been told that your seat has been bumped, there are a few steps you should take. These include:

  • First, make sure that you still have a seat on your original plane. If they have bumped you to a different flight, you need to speak to a customer service agent immediately, if you are not already standing in front of one.
  • Then, if they are changing your seat on the same plane, see if this is an upgrade. If your new seat does not represent an upgrade, you should still go to a customer service agent, if you are not already speaking with one.
  • If you have been moved to a different flight, make sure you understand exactly why your flight has been changed. If your original flight has been canceled, make sure you understand why. If your original flight has not been canceled, you certainly need clarification.

In general, if your seat bump has in any way resulted in an inconvenience for you (such as a downgraded seat or a move to another flight), you need to speak with an agent.

Can I Get a Free Seat Upgrade or Flight?

It is possible that seat bumping could result in a free upgrade for you. If you are a frequent flyer, particularly if you have elite status, it is not unusual for your seat to be upgraded if there is an opening and they want to sell an extra coach ticket.

If your seat has been bumped to another flight, this can be infuriating for you. The airline should be more than willing to compensate you for your inconvenience; however, you will probably have to ask for this, which is why you have to speak to a customer service agent. They want your business, and they do not bump you to a later flight lightly. They should provide you with a voucher or ticket for another flight.

Understand the Different Types of Seat Bumping

These are just a few of the biggest examples of seat bumping. In some cases, it may be an upgrade; however, this is not always the case. Make sure you understand when, how, and why your seat might be bumped.