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Overbooked Flight? Know Your Flyer’s Rights

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All your bags are packed, tickets checked and you arrived early so you won’t miss your flight. To your surprise, the attendant in the check-in counter says you can’t board the plane. When you asked why, you’re simply told that your flight was overbooked. In a more understandable lingo, you were ‘bumped off’.

So, what happens if your flight was delayed or rescheduled due to overbooked flights? Depending on the situation you’re dealing with, your flyer’s rights vary.

Involuntary Flight Bump

  • If you are bumped off your flight involuntarily and the airline has arranged a substitute transport that will get you to your destination in less than an hour of your original expected time of arrival, there is no need for the airline to provide you with compensation.
  • If your alternate carrier will get you to your destination within two hours (or four hours for international flights) after your original expected time of arrival, you are entitled to be reimbursed with 200 percent of your one-way ticket—including the connecting flights—to your destination.
  • If the arranged substitute carrier will get you to your destination in more than two hours (or four hours for international flights), or the airline did not make an arrangement at all, you are entitled for a compensation of 400 percent of the price of your one-way ticket.
  • If the plane ticket does not indicate its price, your compensation will be based on the lowest cash, credit or check payment charged for a fare in the same service class on that particular flight.
  • You can keep the original ticket and use it some other time. If you insist on making your own arrangement, you may request for an ‘involuntary refund’ for getting bumped off your flight. The compensation is a payment for the inconvenience the airline caused you.
  • If you have already paid for extra services on your original light (e.g. additional baggage, seat selection, in-flight meals) and you didn’t receive such services on your substitute transport or you were asked to pay for it, your original airline should refund those expenses.

Voluntary Flight Bump

Sometimes, airlines ask passengers at the check-in counter, and other times they will ask at the gate whether you would like to have your flight rescheduled due to overbooked flight. Before saying yes, know that there are no concrete regulations as to what you would get as compensation.

To get the best reimbursement, you may have to negotiate, and know that compensation typically comes in a form of a voucher or a free seat upgrade on your substitute flight. If you will need to stay overnight somewhere as a result of rebooking, the airline usually will give you a hotel room.

This is just a quick overview of your rights as a passenger in case you get bumped off a flight. Do your own research and make sure to read the fine prints of your flight booking for further information.

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