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Getting "Bumped" Gets More Rewarding

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New federal rules may make getting "bumped" by your airline more profitable. Travelers who are asked to take another flight due to airline overbooking may receive up to $1,330 in compensation, compared to just $800 under the old rules.

New rules announced last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation may make getting “bumped” by your airline more profitable. Travelers who are asked to take another flight due to airline overbooking may receive up to $1,330 in compensation, compared to just $800 under the old rules.

Currently, if you get bumped and the airline can get you to your destination within two hours of your original scheduled arrival time, you're entitled to cash equal to the value of your one-way ticket, up to a maximum of $400. (Airlines have up to four hours to get you to your destination for international flights.) If you arrive at your destination more than two hours late -- or more than four hours late for international flights -- you’re entitled to double the value of your one-way ticket for up to $800 in cash. Under the new rules, which take effect Aug. 23, the maximum compensation will be bumped up to $650 and $1,330, respectively.

In 2010, roughly 681,000 travelers volunteered to give up their seats, according to the Associated Press. Another 65,000 were forced to give up their seats involuntarily.

Under the new rules, passengers will also have their baggage fees refunded if the air carrier loses the luggage and airlines will be required to prominently disclose all potential fees on their websites, including but not limited to fees for baggage, meals, canceling or changing reservations, or preferential or upgraded seating, according to the Department of Transportation.

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“Airline passengers have a right to be treated fairly,” said Transportation Department Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “It’s just common sense that if an airline loses your bag or you get bumped from a flight because it was oversold, you should be reimbursed. The additional passenger protections we’re announcing today will help make sure air travelers are treated with the respect they deserve.”

The agency also said it will expand the existing ban on tarmac delays to cover foreign airlines’ operations at U.S. airports, and establishes a four-hour limit on tarmac delays for international flights of U.S. and foreign airlines (exceptions will be made for safety, security or air traffic control-related reasons). The extension of the ban is in response to delays passengers experienced on international flights at New York’s JFK Airport during the December 2010 blizzard.


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