Bumping? Know Your Rights

Busy Airports over Thanksgiving Holidays

Busy Airports over Thanksgiving Holidays – Be an Informed Traveler

Busy Thanksgiving Travel Season by Air

This year an additional 150,000 people are traveling by air over last year and the busiest day for air travel is set to be Sunday, November 25th. The second busiest will be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, November 21st, followed by Monday 26th.

Expect full airplanes and packed airports. If any flights do cancel, pack your patience as it may take a couple days to find a seat to your final destination.

If you get stuck and the airlines cannot get you to your final destination in time for the holidays or an event, remember you can always declare a “Trip in Vain” to the airline. A Trip in Vain means the purpose of the trip cannot be fulfilled, usually because of a missed connection, delay, etc., and the airline is supposed to provide you transportation back to your origin city.

Depending on the reason for a Trip in Vain, and if cancelled flights were involved, you may be entitled to a full or partial refund. What you’re entitled to, aside from being returned to your origin, is a slippery issue with some airlines — if you run into problems, be sure to document everything.

Passengers can always purchase travel insurance as an extra layer of protection is needed when it comes to things like lodging if you’re stranded. I personally use Travel Guard – Your vacation can take a year to save for, only a second to ruin. Purchase travel insurance through Travel Guard. Starting at $30.

Travel insurance is one of those things many people see as an unnecessary expense, but when things go wrong, they wish they had it. Give it consideration, especially if you’re on a tight budget where things like hotel rooms from being stranded overnight (or more than one night) or lost luggage can set you back further financially.

Know Your Rights: Full Planes Lead to Overbookings and Bumping

Airlines oversell flights, period. When too many seats are sold and more passengers check-in than seats sold, the airline will have to unload some passengers. In the United States, you’re protected by Department of Transportation regulations.

First, the airline must attempt to find volunteers, or individuals who will give up their seat in exchange for compensation of the airlines choosing. It could be a $300 travel credit or it could be a free ticket (which likely has some restrictions) in exchange for taking a later flight. If the airline has problems finding volunteers, they will typically increase the offer.

Myself, I’ve taken voluntary bumps have obtained upto flight $1200 in flight credits, but it is normally closer to the $200 to $600 range. If they don’t have a flight until the next day, they’ll likely pay for a hotel as part of the compensation package.

If you do decide to take a voluntary bump, first know what you are getting and just as importantly, know what flights you are being re-booked on and when they are scheduled to arrive.

Things can get ugly when the airline cannot find enough volunteers — this means an involuntary bump, known as involuntary denied boarding or IDB in the airline industry.

CFR Title 14 § 250 (part 250) governs the overbooking process in the United States, specifically part 250.5 when it comes to passengers denied boarding involuntarily. Aside from some exceptions, 250.5, part two states, “Compensation shall be 200% of the fare to the passenger’s destination or first stopover, with a maximum of $650, if the carrier offers alternate transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the airport of the passenger’s first stopover, or if none, the airport of the passenger’s final destination more than one hour but less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the passenger’s original flight.”

If delayed more than two hours — 250.5 part three states, “Compensation shall be 400% of the fare to the passenger’s destination or first stopover, with a maximum of $1,300, if the carrier does not offer alternate transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the airport of the passenger’s first stopover, or if none, the airport of the passenger’s final destination less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the passenger’s original flight.”

When denied boarding involuntarily, this compensation is due in cash or cash equivalent. Travel Vouchers or Travel Credits are not cash equivalent.

If you have a complaint against an airline, look to the right for Navigation and click on the links bar on the right to locate US DOT – Aviation Consumer Protection.

Please feel free to share your holiday travel experiences with us below.

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