We will soon be entering the busy summer travel season and I thought it would be a good time to explain the process of being denied boarding (bumped from a flight). Most people don’t know the rules and protections they have if a flight is oversold. Below are 8 things you need to know what to do if you are either involuntarily or voluntarily bumped.
#1 – Most people are voluntarily bumped when a flight is oversold –
This is a simple process where the airline will see they have sold more tickets than they have seats on a flight so they announce to the passengers that they will offer them compensation if they are willing to take an alternative flight to their destination. Usually, the airline starts out offering a travel voucher of $400 and continue to increase the amount offered up to $800 or more, until enough people agree to take an alternative flight (CLICK HERE to read how Delta this week announced they are allowing up to $9,950 offered for volunteers). It is important to know that this is all highly negotiable and some people are now asking for cash instead of vouchers for future flights. Keep in mind there are no federal rules that must be followed for voluntary bumping. It is almost like an auction to see who will be the first to put up their hands for the lowest amount offered.
#2 – Involuntary bumping (denied boarding) rules are prescribed by the government –
An involuntary bump is when a flight is oversold and not enough people voluntarily agree to get off the plane and take an alternate flight in return for negotiated compensation. Ironically, by law, the airlines do not have to compensate you if they can get an involuntarily bumped passenger to your destination within one hour of the originally scheduled arrival time. If they can’t get you there within two hours they must pay you 200% (maximum of $675) of the one-way fare in cash (for example, if the one-way fare was $220, they must pay you $440). If you can’t get there within four hours they must pay you 400% (maximum of $1,350) of the one-way fare (for example, if the one-way airfare was $220 they must pay you $880). CLICK HERE for more details on denied boarding compensation.
#3 – Negotiations for overbooking usually happen before passengers enter the airplane –
The airlines usually know in advance if they have oversold a flight and will start announcing offers to be voluntarily bumped sometimes hours in advance of a flight. I have even received notices when I checked-in online that they are excepting volunteers for alternate flights with a set amount of compensation. Very rarely does an airline board a plane first before they make an offer.
#4 –The Federal law says that if a crew member gives you an order you have to obey –
For obvious safety reasons, the government has given the airline crew almost universal power to control the flight from passengers getting out of hand with the potential to disrupt the flight and affect other passengers. I have personally seen crew members abuse this power as they try to show people “who is boss”. However, the bottom line is that if a crew member tells you to get off the plane you are obligated by law to obey.
#5 – Gate agents are limited in what they can offer so always ask for a supervisor for a richer offer –
Delta Air Lines made national news last year when they announced they were increasing the amount of compensation they would authorize an employee to offer a passenger who is denied boarding. The gate agent (the one checking you on the flight) is authorized to offer up to $2,000 in compensation. The airline supervisor can go as high as $9,950. If a flight is overbooked and they are asking for volunteers, always ask to speak to a supervisor. They have the power of the purse strings.
#6 – Planes filled with business travelers are less likely to accept voluntary denied boarding compensation –
Business travelers are usually least likely to volunteer to be bumped as they have meetings they must attend and the compensation is not as important as the meeting. A plane full of families with children usually can easily find a family that will accept free travel vouchers to pay for their next family vacation, for FREE.
#7 – When you buy an airline ticket you agree to be bound by their contract of carriage, and everything is in the airlines’ favor –
When you purchase an airline ticket every passenger agrees to be bound by their contract of carriage. These terms are all very one-sided. Basically, you give all your rights away to the airline. I’m not sure anyone would ever buy an airline ticket if they actually read all the rights that you give up when you buy that ticket. CLICK HERE to see all the rights you give to an airline every time you buy a ticket.
#8 – In the last year bumped passengers have dropped dramatically –
The good news, from the bad news the airlines suffered last year from bumping customers, is that the airlines have responded by dramatically reducing the number of overbooked flights and passengers have much less stress by not having to deal with overbooked flights.
Join my wife Marie and I as we travel to the Big Apple this June! –
Along with the Lied Center for Performing Arts, my wife Marie and I will be hosting an exceptional tour of New York City this June. This fun-filled, custom tailored tour includes three extraordinary performances; Disney’s “Frozen”, the Tony Award-winning “Come from Away”, and “My Fair Lady”. Get an inside perspective on the most exciting city on earth, with the greatest shopping, dining, and photography opportunities. Space is very limited, so do not hesitate to call our friendly Group Department at 402-435-8888 or email me at email@example.com for more details. To see the full tour program CLICK HERE – do not wait, travel while you can!
Attend our FREE Travel Night featuring football and our famous Germany beer tour! –
If you are a fan of football and beer, then join our FREE and exciting Travel Night this Thursday, April 19th, at 6:30 PM at The Harbor Coffeehouse (1265 S. Cotner Blvd, Lincoln, NE 68510). We are presenting two of the coolest tours this year; the “Huskers vs Northwestern Football Tour” and the “Germany Brewery Tour and Oktoberfest.” Travel with us to Germany to tickle your taste buds as we visit some of the most spectacular breweries and enjoy a day at the world-famous Oktoberfest in Munich. A tour combining culture and history, beer and fun! RSVP by clicking HERE or call our friendly Group Department at 402-458-9845. See you on Thursday!
Need information on any of the above?
Call our friendly travel advisors….
Lincoln – 402-435-8888 Toll-free 800-737-0582