A Delta B757 at Salt Lake City

A Delta B757 at Salt Lake City

It is common practice for airlines to “bump” passengers from an oversold flight. Airlines will overbook the flight knowing that statistically not everyone shows up. But when everyone does show up, airlines are required to properly compensate those who are bumped. The common practice is to seek volunteers to take a later flight and bribe them with free flights, hotels, etc. Airlines must also submit in writing a bumped passenger’s rights.

Between January and July of 2008, Delta Airlines didn’t ask for volunteers, compensate properly, or offer rights to bumped passengers. The Consumerist lays out what rights a passenger is entitled to if bumped. Some of the interesting involuntary bump details:

* If the airline can get you an equivalent flight in an hour, no compensation.
* If the airline can find alternative transportation that will get you to your destination 1-2hours after your original time, they have to pay equivalent to your one-way ticket.
* If you can’t get to your destination 1-2hours after your original time, the airline has to pay 200% of your fare.
* Even with the other compensations, you get to keep your original ticket. You can get a refund for it or use it on a future flight.

Luckily I’ve never been bumped from a flight, but could see the sheer frustration someone would have with being bumped when they paid full price. It seems only fair that if airlines are going to gamble on passengers showing up, they need to pay up when they lose the bet.

Update: You have to read FlyingWithFishes legendary tale of the triple bump!

Image: ashergrey

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

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6 Comments

I can understand the whole bumping thing, if I’m travelling and really not in a hurry, sometimes I hope that I get bumped off, put on the next flight and get a free round way ticket on top of that! I have to say that those involuntary bump details are a little too much….

You think they are too much? If you are a passenger and pay full price for a ticket to take you from point A to point B and the airline bumps you because they sold too many tickets, it seems only right for the airline to compensate the passenger for the troubles?!

UWT Curtis

I love inoluntary bumping. I flew America West from Spokane to Dallas for Spring Break.

I booked the earliest flight out on a Friday and was not surprised to see them begging for volunteers. They were offering $600 vouchers for future travel.

I did not volunteer but simply waited to board at last call. That’s when they told me the flight was full and the next flight wasn’t for 4 hours.

They gave me the $600 credit and wrote a check for the one-way fare to Dallas.

Then, the next flight was also over-sold so I did the same exact thing. I was sent to Orange County for the night–and arrived in Dallas on Saturday morning.

I had free meals all day Friday, free hotel in Orange County, almost $600 in cash (I cashed the checks at the airport) and $1200 in America West credit.

It was the best trip to DFW ever.

UWT Curtis

I love inoluntary bumping. I flew America West from Spokane to Dallas for Spring Break.

I booked the earliest flight out on a Friday and was not surprised to see them begging for volunteers. They were offering $600 vouchers for future travel.

I did not volunteer but simply waited to board at last call. That’s when they told me the flight was full and the next flight wasn’t for 4 hours.

They gave me the $600 credit and wrote a check for the one-way fare to Dallas.

Then, the next flight was also over-sold so I did the same exact thing. I was sent to Orange County for the night–and arrived in Dallas on Saturday morning.

I had free meals all day Friday, free hotel in Orange County, almost $600 in cash (I cashed the checks at the airport) and $1200 in America West credit.

It was the best trip to DFW ever.

Jason Fink

Delta is an unscrupulous business. Not only on did cancel my flight for “bad weather” when there was only a slight drizzle and partly clouded skies in the area and perfect weather along the route and in my final destination (I checked). They also ruined my holiday weekend (4th of July) trying to have me fly out the afternoon of the next day getting in that night taking a day of my vacation away. I decided to get a refund, which I waited for 2 hrs in line for, that I did not receive. DON’T TRUST DELTA AIRLINES. They care nothing about their customers and are UNSCRUPULOUS THIEVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing frustrates me more than getting on a flight and everyone being asked to me bumped. Very frustrating practice the airline industry has.

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