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Delta Fined for Improper “Bumping” – Why You MUST Know Your Rights

July 10, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick,Tips and Tricks,Travel Tips

I expect we’ll be hearing more about bumping in the fall, when airlines ramp up capacity cuts and planes get more crowded.

Anyway, yesterday, the Department of Transportation (DOT) fined Delta Airlines $375,000 for violations regarding “denied boarding” compensation – in other words, in some instances, the carrier did not “bump” people properly.

Here are the rules – the rules Delta (and other airlines) are supposed to follow when a flight is overbooked:

  • Ask for volunteers: If there aren’t any, “involuntarily denied boarding” is acceptable – but these passengers must get a written explanation.
  • Rebook bumped passengers: If this occurs “within one hour” of the original flight on the original carrier or another, no further compensation is due.
  • Cash refunds: If rebooking takes longer, “bumpees” are entitled to a cash refund up to $800 depending on the length of the delay and the cost of their original tickets (though if it’s acceptable to the passengers, vouchers can be given in lieu of cash).

According to reports, Delta didn’t always ask for volunteers, and didn’t always let passengers know they were entitled to cash. Delta’s $375,000 fine, I should point out is actually $175,000 plus $200,000 that must be spent on “corrective action.”

If this has happened to you, or you have another air travel complaint, you can find general “complaint” information here, and a complaint form here.

Again – know your rights. Don’t rely on others to do that job for you.

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