On An Overbooked Flight? Here’s What To Do.

I’ve never personally had to deal with an overbooked flight, although I’ll admit I rarely fly anymore if I can avoid it. The fiasco of flying nowadays is almost not worth it to me, if I can easily drive. However, hearing about this debacle with United Airlines made me ponder on what I would do in the situation.

After some research I found some tips that might be helpful for those of us less seasoned flyers.


1. Book a seat assignment. Not having a seat assignment, even a middle seat, means you may end up in the nomad category-waiting for a seat to open up. You’re at high risk of getting bumped if you get the dreaded “Assigned at the Gate” on your boarding pass.

2. Check in early. Some airlines will consider check-in time in deciding who gets bumped.

3. Follow the airlines rules. If check-in is required at least 40 minutes before departure, don’t be late or you go to the head of the bumping queue and you won’t be eligible for compensation. If you have to be in the gate area by a certain time, comply.

4. If you’re traveling with family members, make sure you’re all on the same reservation. If not, call the airline ahead of time to ask to “link the PNRs” so the passenger records are handled together. Airlines try to avoid bumping families with children.


Airlines are required to offer vouchers to volunteers to give up their seats. If an airline denies boarding to a ticketed passenger, it must put the passenger on the next available flight and cover any hotel costs. The key is “available”. If flights are booked for three days, you’ll have a long wait.


If the airline gets you to your destination within…

ONE HOUR of scheduled time, no compensation is required.

between ONE and TWO HOURS domestically or one and four hours international flights, the airline owes you 200% of your one-way fare up to $675.

more than TWO HOURS on domestic flights and FOUR HOURS on international fight, 400% of your one-way fare up to $1,350.


Airlines are required to pay cash to fliers they bump involuntarily who are owed compensation. Some may try to pay in a voucher, which can carry restrictions and may have an expiration date. But customers can demand cash.

If you paid for extras such as premium seating of checked bag fees, a refund is required for services you didn’t receive.

Photo Source: WashingtonPost.com


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