Being late to board your flight is one thing, but getting bumped to the next flight because the airline overbooked is another. Believe it or not, there are hundreds of cases like this. But did you know you are entitled to a compensation whenever this happens?
In the United States, when you get bumped off to the next flight or delayed for more than 2 to 4 hours due to the error or oversales of the airline, you are entitled to financial compensation worth up to 400% of the one-way fare.
What is Bumping?
The term “bumping” is airline lingo for denied boarding. This happens when there are more passengers scheduled to fly on a plane than there are available seats. Airlines would bump passengers to a different flight in order for them to give up their original seats.
This practice is not uncommon, in fact it happens quite often. (Source: Department of Transporation)
Is It Legal for Airlines to Bump Passengers?
The practice of bumping passengers is not illegal. Airlines purposely oversell their scheduled flights to a certain number in order to compensate for those people who don’t show up for the flight. Most of the time, airlines have a good forecast on the number of no-shows that everything goes as planned. But then there are times when overbooking happens, and they would need to bump other passengers off. While this is allowed, not all airlines practice this method. (Source: Department of Transporation)
What Do You Get in Exchange for Bumping Off?
When a flight is overbooked, the airline’s ground staff will start asking passengers to give up their seat voluntarily. But in exchange they offer you compensation for the inconvenience. They can offer you incentives like cash, vouchers or even airline tickets just so you’d volunteer. There is no limit on what they can offer, you are free to negotiate with them. (Source: Department of Transporation)
Are there Any Restrictions on the Incentives They Offer?
If the airline does offer anything that does have restrictions especially with tickets, they are responsible for informing you of the terms and conditions of use before you give up your seat. When you have decided to give your seat up in exchange for the compensation, be sure to ask the following questions:
- When is the next flight you can confirm your seat on? Be sure that they are clear with the time you can board. They can put you on standby until the next flight is available, and that could take a long time.
- Will the airline provide you with amenities while you wait? Are the meals free? Will they sponsor your hotel stay? If not, you may want to reconsider the amount of your own money you’d be spending on your food and lodging while you’re waiting.
- How long is the ticket and vouchers valid for? Are they valid for international or domestic flights only? (Source: Department of Transporation)
What are My Rights When I am Involuntarily Bumped?
When there are not enough volunteers that are willing to be bumped off a flight. The airlines reserves the right to involuntarily bump off passengers based on certain criteria like; check-in time, fare paid, and flyer status.
Having said so, the airlines is required to give all passengers who are bumped a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides on who will be bumped off the flight.
When you are already boarded in the flight, the airline staff is not allowed to remove you from your seat. (Source: Department of Transporation)