When Airlines Overbook, You Might Lose Your Seat
You’ve got your ticket, but you’ve been denied boarding. Yup, you’ve been “bumped” off your flight.
Over-booking by airlines is commonplace. Carriers know that not all of the passengers who have booked to fly with them on a specific day will turn up. However, if all of the passengers do turn up, then the airline will have to “bump” some off the flight.
It could suit you to get bumped. If your travel plans are flexible or if you are flying on your own, it can be a neat way to earn a few dollars or get a travel voucher for a future flight (compensation varies from airline to airline, read the airline’s tariff). If you are on a business trip, are making a connection or need to be somewhere urgently, getting bumped can be a disaster.
What happens if I get bumped?
- Sit back and relax. You will usually be seated on the next available flight.
- Remain in the check-in area and don’t try to make your own arrangements. The airline personnel will do that for you.
- If you accept compensation (cash or vouchers), you may not be able to take any further action against the airline, ie, the airline may consider your acceptance of the compensation a full settlement of all claims.
- If you are unhappy with the compensation offered, complain to your airline in writing. If you are still not satisfied with the airline’s response, complain to the Canadian Transportation Agency.
To avoid getting bumped
- Arrive at the airport in plenty of time to check in, clear security and get to the gate. Passengers who are late in arriving run a much greater risk of getting bumped.
- Read the airline’s policies of honouring reservations on flights that have been oversold. You’ll find these on the airline’s tariff.
If you would like to get bumped
- Book flights departing at the weekend or around prime holiday dates. You have a greater chance of getting bumped at these times.
- Find out in advance if the flight is overbooked. Call your travel agent or the airline the night before you are due to depart.
- Arrive at the airport early, and tell the agent that you would like to fly standby. And be friendly and polite at all times. Gate agents often have discretion about what compensation they offer to flyers.
- Make sure you understand exactly what is being offered by way of compensation. Vouchers for specific dollar amounts are often better than “free ticket” vouchers because there may be hefty restrictions associated with them.
Featured Image: Mark Hodson, 101Holidays.co.uk