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Your Complete Guide to Getting Bumped from a Flight: What Are Your Rights As a Passenger?

“Your flight is overbooked.” These words from the intercom are the most dreaded information one might have heard when traveling. What’s worse is either you’re voluntarily or involuntarily bumped off from the flight you are in.

But how do you avoid being bumped? When you do get bumped, what should you do? Today, we discuss tips on how to avoid getting bumped, as well as with information on what to do when you are bumped from your flight.

How to Avoid Getting Bumped

Choose Off-Peak Season for Travel

Let us give it to you straight, there’s no exact formula to avoid getting bumped off a flight. However, your best chance of avoiding it is by flying during non-peak travel times can work. Overbooking typically happens during peak travel days. This usually falls on weekends and holidays which you should, as much as possible, stay out from. Another tip, though no guarantees, is to fly first thing on a Wednesday or Thursday morning.

Choose Airlines that Don’t Overbook

Staying away from airlines that usually overbooks is perhaps the answer to solve this issue of being bumped off. To find out that information, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) website, which regularly updates statistics about the airlines that overbook the most. Or just fly JetBlue, which has a “no overbooking” policy.

Check-In Early

Check in online as early as possible to lower your chances of being bumped. TripIt Pro‘s check-in reminders can help you stay on top of your game. Passengers who failed to checked in by boarding time are often than not, are the first ones to lose seats on an overbooked flight. Thus, checking in early helps solve getting bumped off, even more so if you have loyalty status with an airline.

What to Do When You Get Bumped 

Know Your Rights!

First and foremost, you should know your rights, this is very important. And this usually come in the form of a written statement, which the airlines are asked by the USDOT to present to passengers who are bumped. This will explain why you are bumped and the case of overbooking. This also includes other information about what you’re entitled to.

Ask for Cash Refunds

Insist on being compensated with cash instead of those vouchers or a ticket for a future flight. This can be up to several hundred dollars on domestic flights and more than one thousand dollars on international flights. You can then use that money as you see fit without any restrictions.

Accept a Flight Voucher If That’s the Best Option  

Accept the flight voucher if they don’t agree on cash. The downside however is you’ll have to do the booking yourself, and you’ll be subject to restrictions and blackout dates. Nonetheless, a flight voucher may be your only option, depending on the circumstances, which can be as little as a couple hundred dollars on domestic flights (but up to several hundred dollars) or more than one thousand dollars on an international flight.

Confirm Your Next Flight Out

After all that trouble, you have to make sure that when you’ve been bumped from a flight, you’re immediately confirmed on a flight out. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. This is typically done automatically, but since you’ll be taking a later flight, you may need to change your itinerary. You may want to call the customer service line of your airline to expedite the process.

Ask for Food, Transportation and Hotel Vouchers

If you’re going to be stuck at the airport for a few hours or if your connecting flight requires a long layover, ask for food, transportation and hotel vouchers. You might find this extremely important, especially if it requires for you to spend the night somewhere that’s not your intended destination. Even if it’s just for a couple of hours, ask about things like food vouchers, and even a voucher for the airline’s lounge.

Volunteer to Be Bumped

Lastly, passengers who have the luxury of time, volunteer to be bumped off. Yes, it’s true. If this is your case, when you arrive to your gate, asked to be put on a volunteer list. If the flight is overbooked, you’ll be one of the first to be called on to take a later flight. Your fellow passengers will be very much grateful and you might make some money off of the deal.

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