With holiday travel already in full swing, content creators have advice on what to do when bumped from your flight.
In a video with 16.3 million views, Sam Jarman (@sam_jarman) shares a step-by-step tutorial explaining passengers’ rights, including an entitlement to a new flight and potential cash compensation when involuntarily bumped from a flight.
“Now here’s a critical part — do not leave the airport,” Jarman explains. “The airline is required to pay you compensation the same day that the bumping incident happened. Oh and also that flight that they rebooked you on? You are not required to pay any additional funds to pay for that flight.”
What does ‘bumped’ from a flight mean?
A flight “bump” can occur when an airline purposefully overbooks a flight, expecting at least a few people not to actually show up — but if everyone does show up and there aren’t enough seats available, the airline can “bump” passengers off the original flight and onto another, later flight.
Such occurrences are major inconveniences for people while traveling, especially if they have connecting flights on their travel itinerary. The airline has potential legal obligations to offer some kind of compensation to bumped passengers under certain circumstances.
Under U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) rules, airlines may owe bumped travelers cash compensation and a new flight at no extra charge, but only with certain conditions satisfied, including not voluntarily agreeing to a new flight.
Similar to flight attendant Sandra Jeenie Kwon’s advice to never take a flight voucher compensation when bumped from a flight, Jarman advises bumped travelers to stay put at the airport for maximum compensation.
Airlines will often first ask for volunteers on an overbooked flight and offer flight vouchers or credit. But if there are no volunteers, flight bumps can and do occur — and that’s when the cash compensation can occur.
“Passengers are usually entitled to compensation if a flight is overbooked and they’re asked to take a later flight,” Jim Campbell, owner of travel agency Honeymoons.com and member of the American Society of Travel Advisors, told In The Know by Yahoo.
“In the United States, the Department of Transportation requires airlines to compensate passengers if they’re bumped involuntarily and delayed for a significant amount of time,” Campbell added. “To get this compensation, passengers should first communicate with the airline’s customer service representatives at the airport. It’s important to know your rights, which can usually be found on the airline’s website or consumer protection sites. Keeping records of your travel documents and any communications with the airline can also be helpful.”
How to get cash compensation for a bumped flight
Jarman also outlines four steps to take when bumped from a flight:
Google the phrase “bumped from flight compensation” to find the official website of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).
Click the transportation.gov site (it’s the first result) to the page “Bumping & Oversales.”
Scroll down to the compensation table that lists how much travelers’ entitlements are based on the length of time bumped from the original flight.
Talk to an airline employee about getting your compensation. According to the USDOT, airlines must pay you compensation same day or, if arranging for off-airport transportation, within 24 hours.
The USDOT lists the compensation for bumped domestic flights as follows:
If the new flight has a 0-1 hour arrival delay, there is no compensation.
If the new flight has a 1-2 hour arrival delay, entitlement is up to 200% of the one-way fare (airlines may limit the compensation to $775 if 200% of the one-way fare is higher than $775).
If the new flight has an over 2-hour arrival delay, entitlement is up to 400% of the one-way fare (airlines may limit the compensation to $1,550 if 400% of the one-way fare is higher than $1,550).
Bumped international flights have similar compensation, with longer delay windows to accommodate for the longer flights.
“This is what you’ll use to calculate how much the airline owes you in compensation,” Jarman explains in the video. “So since I was bumped for my flight and then the next flight they put me on was three hours later it would be 400% of my one way fare, or since I paid $300, that would be $1,200 in cash compensation.”
The key is that travelers must be aware of their rights and not voluntarily agree to take a later flight. Additionally, remember that a flight delay is not the same as a bump from a flight. Airlines inform passengers of bumps flights.
The USDOT’s site also has a consumer dashboard with tools to help passengers learn more about flight cancellations and delays, as well as file official complaints if they feel an airline has not followed the rules appropriately.
Additional rules to know about compensation for bumped flights
Not all flight bumps entitle a passenger to compensation.
The USDOT notes that bumped passengers are not eligible for compensation if the bump occurs because of any of the following situations:
An aircraft change
Weight or balance restrictions for planes with 60 or fewer seats
Planes with less than 30 passengers
International flights to the U.S.
If the crew removes you from a flight for safety purposes or for breaking any airline or airport rules
To qualify for bumping compensation, you must also have met the following criteria, according to the USDOT:
You have a confirmed reservation
You checked into your flight on time
You were at the departure gate on time
And, according to some commenters, one bumped from a flight may arrange cash compensation and then have it canceled when the flight works out after all.
“Delta once offered me $1200 to delay my [flight] for 6 hours. I was so happy. Then they called me back and said there is enough seats in the flight. I was so p****. Hahaha,” claimed @chenx15.
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