How to Get the Most Out of an Airline that Bumps You From a Flight

The airline "is responsible for offering compensation" on the very same day

overbooked flight
Getting bumped from a flight might be worth it.(Getty)
By Ariel Scotti / July 19, 2019 1:41 pm

The prospect of being bumped from an overbooked flight is stressful, but the potential for compensation might make it worth your trouble — if you know what to ask for.

When airline staff makes that all-too-common announcement that the flight you bought a ticket for is overbooked and they’re “looking for volunteers” to stay behind and catch the next one, your initial reaction might be to emphatically shake your head “no” and clutch your suitcase to your chest. Sure, the Deltas and JetBlues of the industry will make you an offer — say, $200 in flight credits — but what if you could get more?

Technically, under regulations by the Department of Transportation,”  writes LifeHacker.com, “there is no limit to the amount of cash an airline can offer a passenger who volunteers to be bumped.”

The gate attendant will likely lowball you at first, but, however unlikely and uncommon this may be, some have been known to shell out as much as $10,000.

If you’re bumped involuntarily, however, the DoT has a strict outline of what you’re entitled to.

You get nothing if your trip is delayed up to an hour, LifeHacker reported. For a one- to two-hour delay on your original arrival time when flying domestically or a one- to four-hour delay on an international trip, you’re entitled to 200% of the one-way fare up to $675. A domestic flight that’s delayed two or more hours or an international vacation that’s set back more than four hours, you deserve 400% of the one-way fare up to $1,300.

It’s important to know, too, that the airline “is responsible for offering compensation” on the very same day and at the airport that you’re delayed at, according to the site. LifeHacker also recommends getting your hands on these amounts in cash over vouchers since those future tickets typically have an expiration date. And don’t forget to ask for a confirmation on your specific seat number for the flight you’re bumped to in order to avoid being a “standby” passenger and possibly missing two flights in a row.

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