Compensation May Increase For Booted Passengers
On Monday, the US
Department of Transportation asked for public comment on possible
changes to the rules governing airline oversales -- better known as
"bumping" -- including a possible increase in the maximum
compensation due to passengers bumped from oversold flights.
The Department asked for comment on several proposals that could
change the compensation totals airlines are required to provide
when they boot passengers off overbooked flights.
The bumping rules were first adopted in 1962 to balance the
rights of passengers with the needs of air carriers to minimize the
effect of passengers with reservations who do not take their
flight. If a flight is oversold, the airline must first seek
volunteers who are willing to give up their seats in return for
compensation offered by the airline. The airline may bump
passengers involuntarily if not enough of them volunteer, and these
passengers are eligible for cash compensation in most
The rule applies to passengers bumped from an oversold flight
that departs without them, the DOT notes, not to those affected by
delayed or canceled flights.
Under the current rule, if the airline can arrange alternate
transportation scheduled to arrive at the passenger’s
destination within two hours of the planned arrival time of the
oversold flight -- or four hours on international flights -- the
compensation is the amount of the fare to the passenger’s
destination with a $200 maximum. If the airline cannot meet these
deadlines, the amount of compensation doubles, with a $400
These payments are in addition to the value of the
passenger’s ticket, which the passenger can use for alternate
transportation or have refunded if not used. There are occasions
when airlines are not required to pay compensation, for example,
where the passenger is provided alternate transportation scheduled
to arrive at the passenger’s destination within one hour of
the planned arrival time of the oversold flight.
The Department asked for
comment on five proposals: increasing the $200 compensation limit
to $624 and the $400 limit to $1,248; increasing the compensation
limits to $290 and $580, respectively; doubling the compensation
limits to $400 and $800; eliminating all compensation limits and
making compensation equal to the value of the ticket with the
payment doubling for longer delays; or leaving the current limits
The Department’s notice also asked for comment on other
possible changes to the bumping rule, such as extending the rule to
aircraft having 30 to 60 seats, which are not currently covered,
and clarifying the criteria airlines may use in deciding the order
in which passengers will be bumped.
Comments on the Department’s Advance Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking are due in 60 days. The notice will be available Tuesday
on the Internet at the FMI link below.