Airlines (Passenger Bumping)
Overbooking is not illegal, and most airlines overbook their scheduled flights to a certain extent to compensate for "no-shows". The most effective way to reduce the risk of being bumped is to get to the airport early. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) sets rules for required compensation if a passenger is bumped from a flight. The amount of reimbursement paid depends on the destination and the length of time the flight was delayed.
Airline carriers may negotiate with their passengers who volunteer to bump their flight for a mutually acceptable amount of money or maybe a free trip or other benefits.
1. If the passenger can be rebooked to reach his or her destination within one hour of the original arrival time, the airline is not required to compensate the passenger.
2. If the passenger is bumped from a domestic flight and the airline cannot schedule the person where he or she wants to go within two hours, the airline must give the individual 100 percent of the value of that flight, up to $200. The original airline ticket is still valid for the next flight. The money provided to the individual by the airline is intended to cover expenses during the delay.
3. If a passenger is bumped from an international flight and cannot reach his or her destination within four hours of the original arrival time, the passenger is entitled to 200 percent of the fare, not to exceed $400.
4. If the passenger is denied boarding and is not sure about the airline's compensation, he or she should inquire with the airline's consumer affairs department. Airlines do not want customers to be dissatisfied.
5. If the passenger is still angry, he or she can sue for damages (Supreme Court decision).
6. If the passenger is unable to resolve a bumping dispute with the ticket agent, he or she should contact the airline's consumer affairs department.
U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Community and Consumer Affairs
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
US General Services Administration
Consumer Information Center
Pueblo, CO 81009
(719) 948-9724 Fax
Aviation Consumer Action Project
2000 P Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036