Know your rights: What to do if your flight will be overbooked

Man dragged off overbooked United flight

Imagine the next time you’re flying. You arrive at the gate. There’s a big mob. the item’s going to be a crowded flight.

A gate attendant announces of which your flight will be overbooked out in addition to asks for volunteers. The airline needs a passenger to give up her seat — in addition to, as a lure, offers up a $300 travel voucher.

of which’s not what happened on the right now-infamous United (UAL) flight. A passenger was dragged off the plane in Chicago by authorities when he refused to give up his seat, which the airline needed to fly one of its own staff to another city. United will be right now investigating how the item handles overbooking situations in addition to interacts with local law enforcement.

The United incident was an outlier. nevertheless the item’s standard practice for airlines to overbook flights in anticipation of no-show passengers. There are also scenarios in which the plane may be too heavy, an air marshal needs to board or flight staff have to get to work. Long story short: If a carrier needs seats, the item may have its eye on yours.

As a flier, here’s what you should know.

1. You may get less if you throw up your hand

The Department of Transportation requires of which airlines ask for volunteers to switch flights before they kick anyone off.

nevertheless negotiations are entirely between you in addition to the carrier. Airlines dictate what the compensation looks like, nevertheless the item’s usually a travel voucher toward a future flight or a gift card.

of which may be totally fine. If you’re cool with going to a different gate, getting to your final destination a little late in addition to banking a flight credit, feel free to volunteer. You should know, though, of which you aren’t entitled to call up an airline in addition to ask for more once you say yes to a deal.

in addition to if you’re kicked off involuntarily, you’re entitled to cash (see below).

One quick addendum: If you get a voucher, the DOT recommends reading the fine print. You should inquire into how long the ticket voucher will be not bad for, whether you can use the item over the holidays in addition to if the item’s not bad for international trips.

2. If you’re booted against your will, federal rules kick in

When airlines don’t get enough volunteers in addition to must involuntarily bump passengers, there are rules they need to follow.

Carriers must deliver fliers to their final destination within one hour of their originally scheduled flight — or they have to start forking over money.

If fliers get to their final stop one to two hours late (or one to four hours late if they’re flying internationally), airlines are required to pay double the original one-way fare, that has a $675 limit. If fliers get in more than two hours late (or four internationally), airlines have to pay 400% of the one-way fare, that has a $1,350 limit.

Passengers hold the right to insist on a check instead of a free flight or a voucher when they’re involuntarily kicked off a flight, according to the DOT. in addition to they always get to keep their original ticket, which retains its value.

Flying an airline of which says the item doesn’t oversell? You still may want to be careful.

JetBlue Airways advertises of which the item does not overbook flights, nevertheless the airline still reserves the right in its contract.

3. Airline status can help (sometimes)

Airlines set their own policies when the item comes to the order in which passengers are bumped. The terms are also sketched out in those pesky contracts of carriage.

On United flights, people with disabilities in addition to unaccompanied minors should be the last to be kicked off, according to the company’s contract.

American Airlines says the item denies boarding based on order of check-in, nevertheless will also weigh “severe hardships,” ticket cost in addition to status within the carrier’s loyalty program.

Delta Air Lines also considers check-in order in addition to loyalty status in addition to looks at if a passenger will be slated to fly first or business class. The carrier also says the item makes exceptions for people with disabilities, unaccompanied minors in addition to members of the military.

4. Want more money? Don’t cash the check

The DOT warns fliers of which their bargaining power will be the greatest before they cash in their reward for being involuntarily bumped — whether the item’s a voucher or a check.

“Once you cash the check (or accept the free flight), you will probably lose the ability to pursue more money through the airline later on,” the DOT says on its website.

If you the cost of being bumped exceeds what you were paid at the airport, you can always try to negotiate a higher settlement via the airline’s complaint department, the agency says. in addition to if of which doesn’t work, you can sue.

“You are always free to decline the check (e.g., not cash the item) in addition to take the airline to court to try to obtain more compensation,” according to the DOT.

sy88pgw (completely new York) First published April 11, 2017: 3:40 PM ET

Know your rights: What to do if your flight will be overbooked

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