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