Flight Overbooked? Passengers Have Some Rights: Here’s What They Are
Airlines have been in the headlines recently due to issues stemming from overbooked flights. It’s important you know your rights as a passenger!
Compensation for Bumped Passengers
There are two sets of compensation rules that kick in when an airline bumps passengers from an oversold flight. The first is those set by the airline itself. If they ask people to volunteer to give up their seats, they may compensate you with hotel vouchers, future flight vouchers (not for the next flight you’ll be placed on) and cash payments, depending on how long you’ll have to wait for the next flight. The longer you wait to give up your seat, the more in compensation you’ll receive, as the amount goes up when they become more desperate.
But, if you lose your seat involuntarily, a set of rules from the Department of Transportation (DOT) kicks in. They have very specific rules regarding cash payments that work in your favor. For example, if you arrive at your destination between one and two hours after your original flight time, the airline has to give you double the cost of your ticket. This goes up with longer waits.
Check In As Early As Possible
In some cases, the last people to arrive or confirm their tickets are the first ones on the bumped list. You can avoid this by checking into your flight as soon as possible. If you can’t be at the airport the second check in starts, use a service like AirlineCheckins.com that does it electronically for you. Once that boarding pass is in hand, your seat is slightly more secure.
Elite Status Helps
Most airlines have specific policies showing who can be bumped from a flight. There’s usually an order that they go in, but certain people tend to have their seats saved. People in first class and business class, of course, are at the top of the “saved pile.” Also, anyone with frequent flyer status with that airline is most likely going to be seated as well. After that, it depends on the airline, but most have special rules in place to ensure that people with physical disabilities and unaccompanied minors stay on their originally booked flights as well.
Know Your Rights
The airlines want to get passengers off oversold flights as cheaply as possible, so most times they won’t offer up exactly what you’re owed. If you know exactly what’s due to you in exchange for your seat, they’ll pay up without a fuss, but you’ll need to inform them that you know your rights as a passenger. Keep in mind that you do need to follow all of the rule, i.e. arrive before check in time ends and have an officially confirmed reservation. As long as you follow this and don’t make a loud fuss, there shouldn’t be any problems.