I’m getting many questions about being a chance passenger. A chance passenger is someone who wants to take the flight with no confirmed reservation. Either you have a later flight that is confirmed with the same airline and want to try your luck in catching the earlier flight or you’re flying with a staff pass (ticket issued to beneficiaries of airline employees). Being a chance passenger is a gamble that can greatly affect your holiday which can either cause more excitement or frustration depending on the outcome.
When you decide to become a chance passenger and has a confirmed flight at a later time, you need to go to the airport prior to the earlier flight that you want to catch. From my experience, there’s no hassle in doing this with domestic flights. Sometimes you don’t need to ask and airline staff are happy to put you in the earlier flights when there are plenty of seats available. However, it’s a different case when you are taking an international flight. If you want to ask, you can try by asking “Do you plan to move passengers on the earlier flight? If you do, I would like to be considered”. Don’t demand and ask directly, it’s not their obligation and not your absolute right to be transferred.
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Let’s say there are two flights from Manila to Hong Kong in Philippine Airlines that departs from 8am and 6pm respectively. You have a confirmed booking for the 6pm flight but you want to take the morning flight as a chance passenger. Aside from you need to be at the airport at the airport earlier than 8am following the standard check-in procedures, there’s no guarantee that you could take the seat but here’s how your chances could increase to take the seat as a chance passenger:
1. You did not check in online. Passengers who already checked-in should take their original flights. The airline staff won’t bother to unload you from your original flight and move you to the next flight. That’s extra work for them.
2. You have an emergency. Though still subject to availability, if there are plenty of seats on the earlier flight you can be allowed.
3. You don’t have a connecting flight. Otherwise, they would need to change the whole ticket and that usually goes with a fee.
4. You’re a frequent flyer and have a good status with the airline. Frequent flyers such as Premier and Elite members have better chances of getting the seats.
5. Your original flight is overbooked. In this case, you have high chances of getting the seat since this saves the airline some headache and money. Normally, when flights are overbooked they offer passengers to voluntarily give up their seats in exchange of compensation and a guaranteed seat to the next flight.
Again, there’s no guarantee and there are no golden rules written about changing flights on the same day for free. This flexibility could be available in any airlines but different situations and scenarios apply. Still, take chances and do not be afraid to try your luck.
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