Over a quarter-million passengers were bumped from flights in the past eight months, a number that is set to grow as airlines try to boost anemic profits by slashing fleets. The Department of Transportation requires airlines to compensate bumped passengers with cash or vouchers, but savvy passengers can leverage their situation to negotiate heftier payments…
Travelers can now receive up to $400 if they are involuntarily bumped and rebooked on another flight within two hours after their original domestic flight time and within four hours for international. They are eligible for up to $800 in cash if they are not rerouted by then. The final amount depends on the length of the flight and the price paid for the ticket.
Even stricter rules apply in Europe, where compensation ranges from 125 euros (about $185) to 600 euros (about $888), depending on the length of the flight and the amount of time the passenger will be delayed.
Compensation must be paid immediately in cash, or with a voucher if the passenger accepts it, and the airline must offer a choice of a refund, a return flight to their departure city or an alternative flight. Volunteers also receive compensation, which they negotiate with the airline.
Passengers are learning, however, that if an airline does not get enough volunteers at a lower figure, they might be able to bid up the offer, and also obtain sweeteners that include vouchers for meals, hotels, transportation and even plane tickets.
Baiting the bump is a proud tradition for many thrifty travelers. If negotiating provides a cathartic prelude to vacation, read our guide for getting bumped.
If your trip can’t wait for vouchers and cash, we also have a handy guide for holding onto your seat.
As Overbooked Flights Rise, So Do Payoffs for Those Who Are Bumped [The New York Times]