The concept of being pushed off an overbooked flight isn’t new, but it certainly is being shown in a completely different light. The United incident with a passenger being dragged from an overbooked flight was just one of a string of airline-related incidents captured by phones on cameras and then shared on social media for the world to see.
If you’re scheduled on an overbooked flight, there are some things you should know to protect yourself and make the most of the situation, however.
A lot of travelers don’t realize that according to certain laws, in many cases overbooked flight compensation is required if you’re kicked off a flight involuntarily. In addition to required compensation, there are usually vouchers and other forms of compensation provided even when an airline isn’t required to do so.
Passengers tend to miss out on receiving compensation for delays, cancellations, and disruptions because they don’t file claims. This is often because they don’t know how to or don’t even know the opportunity exists.
There are tools, however, that will automate the process for travelers and make sure they have claims filed for compensation whenever it could be appropriate.
There are a few distinctions that you should know especially when it comes to volunteering versus being booted off the flight against your wishes. When you volunteer, you’re essentially negotiating with the airline carrier, and it’s up to you and then what you get and how much you’re compensated.
If you agree to the terms that’s it, and you’re not likely to fare well if you try and call them later on and say you want more, so it’s best to handle it up front.
On the other hand, if you’re involuntarily kicked off a plane, there are federal rules that have to be followed. Airlines are required to get people kicked off a flight to their destination within an hour of their flight’s originally scheduled time, or they have to pay double a one-way fare up to $675. Airlines also have to pay 400% of a one-way fare for a flight that puts you more than two hours behind your originally scheduled landing time.
If you were bumped involuntarily and you want to leave yourself room to negotiate in the future, don’t cash the check or use the voucher they originally give you. You’ll have more room for negotiations in the future if you leave the check or voucher purchased or unused.
Use Your Status
Finally, despite the fact that there are some federal regulations regarding how airlines handle it when they bump passengers, the airlines do have a lot of flexibility.
If you’re someone who’s a frequent flyer or someone with a co-branded credit card from the particular airline that you’re flying on, you may have a better opportunity to stay on the flight or get better perks if you don’t.
For example, Delta Air Lines is just one of many that do weigh not only check-in order but also loyalty status when they have an overbooked flight.