Laura Begley Bloom wasn't the type to sacrifice herself on an overbooked flight. The travel editor "scoffed" at people who traded their seats for cash from the airline. "Not my thing," she writes at Forbes. But then a weekend trip to Florida went awry—and Bloom made a cool $11,000. The saga unfolded on Friday morning as Bloom and her husband and daughter waited to board a Delta flight at New York's LaGuardia Airport. Bad weather had caused thousands of flight cancellations, but the storms had passed so Bloom didn't expect a problem. Wrong. With 60 standby passengers, Delta began offering deals, and Bloom's family got $4,050 for agreeing to fly Saturday night. The family arrived for that flight, only to learn Delta was begging for volunteers to bump, and the price kept rising. "Cha-ching!" Bloom writes, pocketing another $1,300 each, plus lunch ($15 each), and $50 taxi fare.
Although she "felt a bit guilty" for playing the system, Bloom says "many passengers actually thanked us for doing this." But as they waited for confirmed seats on Sunday, the family learned Florida flights were overbooked through Tuesday. Goodbye weekend trip. Hello windfall. An offer to give up their seats again was "met with smiles and another $1,000 per passenger," plus a refund of their original fares. It all added up to about $11,000, and Bloom is "already starting to think" how she can get bumped from future flights. Her post ends with 10 tips for others in a similar mindset. As for the Delta woes, CNN takes a look at what triggered the "five-day meltdown" that caused the airline to cancel 3,500 flights from Wednesday through Sunday. Factors include severe weather, the bad timing of spring break, and, ironically, a company mindset that resists canceling flights under most circumstances. (United, however, is suffering much worse PR.)