Bumped airline passengers have rights

Hotel News - 30/07/2009

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The US government has established rules regulating the practice of airlines bumping passengers from flights and from time-to-time levies fines on carriers that break the rules. Delta Air Lines, for example, was recently fined $375,000 by the US Department of Transportation, although up to 50 percent of that amount may be waived if the airline improves its practices regarding oversold flights.

Airlines are required to ask for volunteers to take a later flight before bumping any passenger from a flight - and to compensate those who are unwillingly bumped.

If a passenger is bumped from a domestic flight, the airline is required to offer compensation equal to the cost of a one-way ticket to their destination, up to a maximum of $400 cash if the flight the passenger is rebooked on is scheduled to arrive at the destination within one to two hours of the originally-scheduled arrival time. The amount increases to $800 if the new arrival time is longer.

Passengers that are in no hurry often don’t mind getting bumped and sometimes volunteer to take a later flight – for compensation. They expect to receive compensation in the form of cash, travel vouchers or first-class upgrades on their rebooked flight.

San Francisco-based travel consultant Chris McGinnis has said that the best flights for passengers to haggle over are those scheduled in the late-afternoon or early evening - popular with business passengers who can’t wait to take flights the next day.

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