Help Desk FAQ

Travel

 

What are my rights if I am “bumped” from a flight on which I have a ticket?

Overbooking is not illegal and most airlines overbook their scheduled flights in order to compensate for no-shows, so passengers are sometimes bumped as a result. When overbooking occurs, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to ask people who aren't in a hurry to give up their seats voluntarily, in exchange for compensation.

Those passengers bumped against their will are, with a few exceptions, entitled to compensation; the amount depends on the price of their ticket and the length of the delay. According to FlyersRights.org, arriving one to two hours late on a domestic flight (or one to four hours late on an international flight) entitles you to 200 percent of your one-way fare, up to $675. If the delay is longer, the airline owes you 400 percent of the one-way fare, up to $1,350. To be eligible for compensation, you must have a confirmed reservation. If you miss the ticketing or check-in deadline, you may have lost your reservation and your right to compensation if the flight is oversold. If you are bumped involuntarily and the airline arranges substitute transportation that is scheduled to get you to your final destination (including later connections) within one hour of your original scheduled arrival time, there is no compensation. 

You always get to keep your original ticket and use it on another flight. If you choose to make your own arrangements, you can request an "involuntary refund" for the ticket for the flight you were bumped from. If you paid for optional services on your original flight (for example, seat selection or checked baggage) and you did not receive those services on your substitute flight or were required to pay a second time, the airline that bumped you must refund those fees.

The DOT requires airlines to give involuntarily bumped passengers their rights in writing, along with an explanation of how the carrier decides who gets bumped (often based on the fare paid and frequent flyer status). But getting to the airport early and checking in before other passengers is good protection against losing your seat.

If you've accepted compensation, you have 30 days to try to get more money from the airline. But once you deposit the airline's check, you've agreed to accept what they paid you.

 

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