How Not to “Get Bumped” when your Airline is Overbooked

Story By: Zeena Mercado

What to do if your Airline is overbooked and how Not to “Get Bumped.”

The video that has been viewed more than a million times of a man identifying himself as a doctor was forcibly removed from a United flight on Sunday to make room for an airline employee who needed the seat. He was being dragged off from the flight set to depart from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky.  It has ignited disgrace against the airline on how the incident was handled because the man was injured and got his mouth bleeding. And according to witnesses, the passenger ran back on board minutes later, yelling that he needed to get home to see his patients.

After the occurrence, United Airline CEO Oscar Munoz releases a statement, “to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.”

The United passenger’s rough ejection has clearly raised questions about overbooking and bumping. Let us study about this and learn from those things that happened.

When we board a flight, we silently agree to what’s called the “tariff” in Canada and “conditions of carriage” in the United States, legal documents. That is all about what an airline owes its customers, and how passengers should be treated. Moreover, according to most tariffs and conditions of carriage in terms of “overbooking,” they have the right to pluck you out of your seat if they’ve sold it twice. So here’s the truth…

Airlines can legally overbook

They book passengers to more seats on a particular plane than are available to maximize profit. A seat that has already been sold, but remains empty, is a missed opportunity for the airline to generate more revenue. If they stop overbooking they aren’t able to recover their lost revenue then a tendency for ticket prices to go up.

“The airlines normally do a pretty good job on overbooking,” he said. “People know it’s coming, and they are willing to allow themselves to be bribed to get off the flight. People who are actually bumped and are really irritated about it are almost nonexistent — it’s a tiny percentage. But the people who want lower prices are around 100 per cent.” – Charles Leocha, chairman, and co-founder of the consumer advocacy group Travelers United told Time magazine.

If an airline has overbooked a flight, some passengers will need to be bumped. It is in the airline practices that they will ask for volunteers to take another flight. If none are approaching, passengers will be involuntarily bumped. At that point, there’s really not much a passenger can do.

However, according to the Canadian Transportation Agency, the Canadian carriers will “usually help passengers that are voluntarily or involuntarily “bumped” to find a seat on the next available flight at no additional cost.”

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation says it requires airlines to “ask people who aren’t in a hurry” to give up their seats voluntarily in exchange for compensation.

How does the airline choose passengers to get bumped?

Even though they are telling us that it is randomly chosen, Canadian and U.S. carriers have their own set of guidelines to decide.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, some airlines will bump passengers with the lowest fares first or the last passengers to check in.

Their decision may also be based on the passengers’ fare class. Meaning if you have bought the regular priced ticket (not the sale ticket) you will likely avoid the bump.

What does the Airline offer when you are chosen to get bumped?

The airline must offer compensation to each passenger that gets bumped. In Canada, the amount of compensation depends on the airline. However, under the Canadian law, the carrier was required to provide compensation in the amounts of $200, $400 or $800 per passenger, depending on whether the delay is less than two hours, between two and six hours, or more than six hours.

In the U.S., if a passenger will arrive between one and two hours later than planned — or between one and four hours for an international flight — the airline must pay the passenger twice the amount of the one-way fare to the destination, up to $675.

If the passenger will be delayed more than two hours — or four hours for international flights — the airline must pay four times the one-way fare, up to $1,350.

What to do now to avoid being bumped?

We can minimize the chances of this happening by:

  • Early Check In. Passengers arriving late are usually the ones most likely to be bumped.
  • Pay Extra/Pay to reserve your seat. The Canadian Transportation Agency said pre-selecting seats when making a reservation, which may require the payment of a fee, could also help avoid bumping.

 

A passenger who was violently dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight was removed so staff could take his seat

Source:

CBC.CA