If you’ve ever been bumped from a flight at the last minute and cried foul, it seems the Department of Transportation has heard your complaints (or at least thousand others like you.)
On Tuesday morning, the DOT is to release new rules on airline bumping, the practice of knocking a passenger off a flight without their permission. According to spokesman Bill Mosley, the announcement will include new rules on a range of issues, not just bumping, as part of the overall effort to improve consumer protections on airlines.
On Monday, the Associated Press reported that the new plan on bumping is expected to raise the maximum amount that airlines must pay passengers who get bumped off an oversold flight, currently at $400 or $800 depending on how long a trip is delayed. The Associated Press also reported that bumpings rose in three of the past four years and jumped 10 percent to 762,422 (passengers) in 2009, the highest total since 2002. Bumpings hae also soared to 17 percent in the first quarter of this year.
For anyone who has ever tried to board an oversold price, you know the routine. First, you hear the announcement asking for someone to “voluntarily” give up their seat in exchange for a free ticket at another time, etc. The growing problem is one of overbooked flights. And as the busy summer flying season approaches, some passengers may be more nervous than ever. Airlines for years, have oversold flights under the guise that some passengers won’t show up. That happens less and less frequently now, because there are fewer flights. The fact there are fewer flights then forces more bumping and causes more problems for the “bumped” passenger, i.e. fewer options to get to their destination.
Again, the DOT announcement is expected to give airline customers additional protections, including in how prices are advertised, especially online.