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Bumping Information

  Tips Home >> Travelling Tips >> Bumping Information


What does getting bumped mean?
"Getting bumped" is the common term most people use when they are denied boarding on a flight because there is no room for them on the plane even though they have a reservation. The Airlines often "overbook" and sell more than 100% of a particular flight’s seats because they know that some of the people with reservations won’t show up for the flight. Sometimes everyone does show up and this means that there won’t be enough seats to go around and someone must be left behind. Those left behind have been "bumped" from the flight and will have to take a later flight.
How can I avoid being bumped?
Avoid using an Airline that oversells too much and ends up bumping many of its passengers.
Keep up with the news and see if your Airline is facing any upcoming labor negotiations. If they are in negotiation near the time you are planning your trip, you might want to use another Airline in case yours has a work stoppage or slowdown.
Check the weather conditions that are common along your route to see if you can plan your trip to avoid periods when foul weather causes delayed and cancelled flights. Delayed and especially cancelled flights will fill up other flights and that can cause the need for an Airline to bump passengers.
Avoid peak travel times.
Fly nonstop or with the least amount of connections possible. Each time you land and take off, you increase your chances to get bumped. If you do have to include connecting flights, try to make them at the least congested airports. Limiting your stops will also help you to avoid the possibility of a misconnection.
Consider flying earlier in the day so you’ll have more options remaining through out the day to complete your trip if you do get bumped.
Avoid booking the last flight of the day. This is especially important on peak flight days when many flights end up being overbooked. Often, fewer people are willing to volunteer to be bumped from the last flight of the day since they will have to end up waiting until the next morning to leave. Since this increases your chances of being involuntarily bumped, plan on arriving to the last flight of the day even earlier than you would for other flights. Also, note that many Airlines have a policy against paying for a hotel stay at your flight’s origin if you are delayed overnight.
Don’t buy standby or open tickets to travel during peak travel times.
If you fear you may get bumped, consider using a paper ticket over an electronic ticket. If you need to transfer to another Airline to continue your trip, a paper ticket can save you time. Most Airlines are not yet able to transfer passengers flying on e-tickets without first taking the time to switch them to a paper ticket.
Try to get a seat assignment when you book your flight.
Confirm your reservation and verify that the Airline has all the correct information.
It’s not the cheapest way to go, but flying first class, full fare or business class will get you a better shot at seats, especially among the last to arrive.
Join an Airline’s elite member club or frequent flyer programs.
Arrive early and confirm your seat assignment since the latest to get there will be the most likely to be left out.
Ask about the flight when you check your luggage. If the flight is overbooked, go directly to the gate. Just having checked in, won’t always guarantee you a seat.
Board when your row is called. If you delay, they might think your seat is open and board a standby passenger in your place.
Where can I find information on how often an Airline overbooks and has to bump passengers?
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report web page. This site contains information on flight delays, mishandled baggage, oversales or overbooking of flights, consumer complaints, and disability complaints for the ten largest U.S. Airlines. Each of these sections provides valuable information to assist the traveler in evaluating which major Airline would provide them the best service.
What should I know before I volunteer to be bumped?
If you do volunteer, you will be stuck with whatever deal you accept. If something is not part of the deal, don’t expect to get it even if it turns out you need it later. You’ll want to know all the details of the Airline’s offer before you agree to accept their deal.
Is a seat on their next flight guaranteed and confirmed and when is that flight scheduled? Remember, if you agree to fly on standby you could end up getting stranded.
What will happen if it turns out you won’t be able to find me a seat on the next flight or that flight is delayed or cancelled?
What will happen to my checked luggage?
What type of consideration is available if I volunteer to be bumped?
What limitations are there on the free ticket or travel voucher? When will they expire, are there blackout dates, can they be used for international travel and can I make a regular reservation for their use? Are there minimum or maximum stay requirements? Are the vouchers good for only a certain class of tickets?
What happens if you can’t get me on a flight today and I have to spend the night? Will you pay for a hotel stay and transportation to that hotel?
Is a meal voucher, long distance phone credit or hotel voucher available for my delay? What are the restrictions on those items?
Are there any other premiums available such as entrance into their airport club lounge while I wait or headset vouchers?
What should I do if I am involuntarily bumped?
If you are involuntarily bumped, work with the Airline’s counter personnel to book you on another flight. Being nice and working with the agent will often bring much better results than losing your temper. You can let them know you are upset without turning your anger toward them. Know that there are written guidelines, some of which are required by the Federal Aviation Administration, that protect passengers who have been involuntarily denied boarding.
Ask to be protected under the Airline’s own written rules in the ticket’s conditions or contract of carriage for dealing with bumped passengers so you are given all the consideration you are legally due. This section of the contract is often called "Rule 245", but no matter what it is called, they will have a section that specifically spells out what action they must take to help you continue your trip and what compensation you are due, if any. The U.S. Department of Transportation mandates that a copy of this contract be available to passengers at the Airline’s ticket counter. Many Airlines also provide this information on their web sites so you might print it off and take it with you in case you need it.
Make sure the Airline has first asked for volunteers to be bumped. They are required to at least ask for volunteers. Although, there are no specific guidelines for the offers they make, they should offer compensation of some form to encourage volunteers before they deny you a seat.
See if others in your party belong to any premium clubs that will help to get you special consideration.
If you checked luggage to go on the flight from which you were bumped, take measures to protect that luggage.
See if they can guarantee you a seat on another flight.
See if your Airline is willing to find you a seat on another Airline. Although, their contract may allow them some time to first find you a flight on their own Airline, most state that when they fail to do so, they will try to find you a seat with another Airline. Know that many Airlines limit your potential choices of other Airlines only to certain Airlines that have existing agreements with your Airline. Your option probably won’t be to find any other flight at the airport that works. It will be to find another flight from a list of specific Airlines.
The Airline’s contract of carriage may state that, if you so choose, you are entitled to an involuntary refund for any unused portion of your ticket, even if you purchased a nonrefundable ticket.
This contract also specifies what, if any, other compensation you are due because you were involuntarily denied boarding of the flight. Some of this compensation is regulated under Federal Aviation Administration guidelines. The compensation due will usually vary depending on the reason you were denied boarding and how time much you were delayed. The compensation guidelines for U.S. domestic flights also vary from flights with an international portion. You may be entitled to vouchers for meals, overnight stays, long distance phone calls, and/or ground transportation in addition to travel vouchers or monetary rewards.
Keep all receipts for expenses caused by being involuntarily bumped. No matter what their rules say, you can always make an appeal to the Airline’s customer service department and you’ll want the receipts to back you up. Send your Airline copies of the receipts and keep the original receipts.
If it looks like lots of people are going to be stuck for a long time, consider booking a hotel room and/or a rental car before everyone else grabs them all. Under certain situations, some Airlines provide vouchers for hotel rooms and ground transportation so you should check with them before making your own arrangements. You may also be entitled to meal vouchers and other perks.
Update any future reservations with Airlines, hotels or rental cars that will be effected by your delay.


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