If the highly publicized United Airlines dragging taught us anything,, it’s that getting bumped from your flight is a very real possibility, no matter who you are or what you do — and it’s a situation that can get out of hand in the blink of an eye.
I personally try to protect myself by using credit card points to book first class flights, where airlines are much less likely to bump passengers.
But the majority of my flights and yours are not going to be first class, so we prepared a guide to deal with what to do if you are bumped from a flight.
First, know your rights.
As a passenger, you have rights. It is up to you to not only know those rights, but to take the proper steps to act on them if the situation should arise.
See, there is a very strict set of federal Department of Transportation rules that govern how airlines should treat customers when a flight is overbooked.
We’ve outlined some of the most important ones down below to get you started.
- They must first ask for volunteers. Before airlines can choose who to remove from a flight, they must first ask if anyone is willing to give up their seats for (sometimes hefty!) compensation.
- You should receive a written statement of your rights. This will tell you not only why you are being bumped, but what you are receiving in return.
- You must be rebooked. If you are involuntarily removed and this is going to cause you to be more than 1 hour late to your intended destination, you will be compensated generously for your inconvenience.
Now that we’ve taken care of your rights, it is important to know what steps you should take if you find yourself in this situation. There are few things scarier than feeling like you’ve been stranded at a random airport, so having a game plan probably isn’t the absolute worst idea in the world.
It is a simple fact that airline loyalty members almost never get booted off of flights, so you may want to keep that in mind the next time you fly with your favorite airline. If it does happen to you, however, we have one rule that rises above the rest:
Don’t argue with the crew.
This rule cannot be stressed enough. Although getting booted off of a flight totally sucks, it isn’t worth paying the fine that could come along with it.
According to the FAA, unruly passengers can receive up to $25,000 in fines.
At the end of the day, getting to your destination just isn’t worth the headache, the monetary losses, and the potential danger it could cause. Take the compensation they’re offering and head out peacefully.