New Law Would See Bumped Passengers Paid $1,350
Good news for anyone who's ever been involuntarily denied boarding
Questionable though it may be, it’s not uncommon for airline passengers to be asked to give up their seats or, worse still, be denied boarding in the event of an oversold flight.
This, according to transportation.gov, is ultimately a sales strategy that allows airlines to account for “no-shows” or cancellations. In fact, in 2022, per an Air Travel Consumer report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 83,000 passengers were either voluntarily or involuntarily bumped from domestic flights in 2022, up from roughly 14,500 in 2021.
And while a few unfortunate incidents involving passengers being denied boarding have led to more consumer-friendly policy revisions in recent years, it’s still very much a thing that can happen in 2023. Now, though, a proposed pair of bills, titled the “Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights” and “Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act,” seek to further level the playing field, per a report from Afar.
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“Our nation’s largest airlines can’t even guarantee consumers that their flights won’t be delayed or canceled, that their luggage won’t be lost, or that they won’t get stranded at the gate because of overbooking,” U.S. senator Edward Markey, one of the backers of the bill, said of the legislation in a release. “We must empower regulators and uphold passengers’ rights so they are treated with dignity before, during, and after their flight.”
Inspired in part by the Great Southwest Meltdown of 2022, the bills address refunds and compensation for delays and cancellations caused by the airlines, shrinking seats and subsequent safety concerns, transparency surrounding passengers’ rights, protecting basic humanity on planes, “sky-high nickel-and-dime fees,” consumers’ rights to pursue claims against airlines, lack of meaningful competition in the industry, the DOT’s enforcement against the industry and compensation for those denied boarding.
As they pertain to the latter, the bills — should they be signed into law — would not only see that travelers bumped from a plane be awarded at least $1,350, but encourage airlines to provide compensation to passengers who relinquish their seat in the form of a cash payment as well as prohibit airlines from imposing a cap on the amount of compensation provided to a passenger for relinquishing their seat, too.
Of course, there are a handful of scenarios in which you might be denied boarding in which you likely won’t receive compensation — including an aircraft change, weight and balance restrictions, downgrading, charter flights, small aircraft and flights departing a foreign location — but it still pays to familiarize yourself with policy.
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