Bumping & Overbooking
Helpful traveler advice from the experts
Bumping (or too many passengers and not enough seats) is common practise these days. It refers to airlines deliberately overbooking flights as they work on the basis that there will be no shows and of course, their preference is to fly with full capacity. But what does that mean when you are “bumped” off a flight.
Ordinarily the first stage involves the airline staff in the departure lounge casually asking for volunteers with the usual enticement of travel vouchers. It is very unlikely to be hard cash but usually along the lines of “free” future flights with them (no doubt with restrictions of some sort).
If this suits you, great - just ensure you are fully aware of the compensation and you have maximised the potential offer.
Of course, at the end of the day lack of volunteers will result in compulsory off loading of passengers – but the question is who will that be?
The airline staff will probably work through a selection criteria potentially based on the following:
- Last people to check in (providing they are not their top tier frequent flyer)
- People who didn't reconfirm their flight prior to arriving
Note: In the United States, passengers are now entitled to get up to $400 if they are involuntarily bumped and re-booked on another flight within 2 hours after their original domestic flight time and within 4 hours for international flight. Passengers are eligible for up to $800 in cash if they are not re-routed by then. The final amount depends on the length of the flight and the price paid for the ticket.
In Europe, the rules are stricter than those in the US. The compensation for bumping in Europe ranges from 125 euros (about $185) to 600 euros (about $888) depending on the length of the flight and the amount of time the passenger will be delayed.
The European rules stipulate that compensation must be paid immediately in cash, or with a voucher if the passenger accepts it. Besides, the airline must offer a choice of a refund, a return flight to the passenger’s departure city or an alternative flight. Volunteers also get compensation, which they negotiate with the airline concerned.