This is the season of travel, probably one of the busiest seasons of the year for the airline industry.
For some travelers their travel plans may be interrupted because the airline has overbooked either the flight they are on or some other reason. This is called to be “bumped.” If you keep your head and view the bump as a holiday mixed blessing you may find you are well compensated. There are some basic rules around the airlines that you need to be aware. For example, even a two-hour delay may be enough for the airline to payr a $200 cash certificate or its the value of a one -way ticket..
The top five airlines with the highest rate of bumps are; Comair, Skywest, Atlantic Southwest, Mesa Airlines, and Northwest Airlines. These airlines have a range of 15 percent to 30 percent bumping per 10,000 airline passengers. The majority of all airlines have a rate of 12 percent bumping per 10, 000 airline passengers.
There is a great traveler web site called Bump Tracker that allows you to review recent bumping of all the airlines. The site also allows you to enter your story of a bumping. The good thing about this web site is it tells you what type of remuneration or travel voucher passengers received from the various airlines.
The important thing again is to keep a cool head. If the bumping is involuntary, the negotiations should begin free round trip airline tickets and arranging a new flight you have been bumped out of. If nothing is available currently and you are required to stay over night, it is quite reasonable for the airline to pay for a hotel room, dinner and a cash voucher and this is in addition to a free round trip ticket. You have been inconvenienced. Do not sell yourself short.
In some instances the airline may ask for volunteers to be bumped because during the holidays they always seem to overbook. The Department of Transportation monitors airlines over booking. The governmental agency publishes A Consumer Guide to Air Travel. In summary if the airline over sells a flight they must provide the ousted traveler who is confirmed on the flight a written notice of the event. The written statement must contain the rights of the traveler who is confirmed and the method of selecting who has priority on the scheduled flight. If the airline cannot arrange suitable travel within one hour of the flight, the airline must pay compensation on the spot.
According to DOT, the compensation ranges from $200 for two hour delays and $400 for delays more than two hours if no substitute travel is provided. According to many travel sites the airline may increase the compensation given the circumstances of the stranded passenger. The ousted passenger must be confirmed on the flight or at least have the check mark on the travel ticket indicating the traveler was confirmed.
One savvy traveler’s guide suggests the ousted traveler get in writing any agreement for compensation as some have had the arduous task of taking the matter up the corporate ladder because the original compensation was not communicated to the substitute traveler’s destination.
Generally, the airline customer service personnel will pay the compensation on the spot in the way of vouchers for airline ticket or accommodation. Most travel sites recommend taking a cash certificate instead of airline tickets because the compensation is almost immediately available.
Depending on the airline and your travel habits you may select airline tickets or other merchandise certificates offered by the offending airline. The only requirement for compensation is the one mentioned above from the D.O.T. However, the airline may want to add to this compensation in order to avoid customer dissatisfaction. The D.O.T. states the bumping rate is significantly lower than the figures mentioned above. Perhaps reporting by consumers to non-governmental sources is more frequent.
If you volunteer to be bumped from the overbooked flight, you should make sure you can book another flight with another airline or the same airline within your personal travel preferences. If the airline has arranged for a substitute flight that is more than in excess of one hour from your original flight you are still entitled to compensation as outlined above.
The most important thing to remember is to keep a cool head. Relax and don’t jump at the first offer to be bumped. Consider the offer and you may find the offer increasing as the flight time approaches. Discuss and negotiate with the customer service representative and call around to different airlines to see if you can be accommodated. One traveler told a story of getting their entire honeymoon compd. by the airline and airline tickets for their first anniversary. If you are involuntarily bumped, a cool head still prevails.