With the number of air travelers being bumped from overbooked flights having increased in three of the last four years — and with 2009’s number of 762,422 bumped travelers being the highest since 2002 — a new report claims that regulators will soon be bumping up the amount of cash airlines are required to pay travelers.
Right now, if a passenger gets the bump from an oversold plane, they are given $400 or $800, depending on the amount of time required before the traveler can get on the next comparable flight.
A new Associated Press report says that the Transportation Dept., who last increased the required payments in 2008, is planning on increasing those dollar amounts in an effort to dissuade airlines from overbooking. While no solid figures are given, passenger advocacy groups have suggested going as far as $800 and $1,200 for the new limits.
Explains the AP:
When a flight is overbooked, airlines must first ask for volunteers before involuntarily bumping ticket holders. While volunteers can get travel vouchers, people forced off flights must be paid in cash or check. Critics say airlines often flout that rule. The Transportation Department recently fined Southwest Airlines $200,000 for that and other shortcomings in its bumping practices.
In 2009, volunteers and forcibly bumped passengers accounted for 1 out of every 763 air travelers.