The term “bumped off” is thrown around a lot when air travellers are delayed, but in the specific context of flight delays, it is fairly ambiguous. Who is to blame for a flight delay, and what does it mean to be “bumped off your flight”?
If you’re ever bumped off a flight, you may wonder how airlines manage to get away with it, but there are a few reasons they’re allowed to. First and foremost, overbooking is a popular choice for airlines and has been permitted for over a decade because it helps them make money. The calculations behind it are complex, and the process of figuring out who is the most important person to get on the plane, who is the least important, and who will get on the next flight is rarely a simple task.
The reality is that airlines are consistently overbooked. This is because most airlines follow a blanket policy for passengers who want to be bumped off a flight: if the airline can’t ensure you a place on the next available flight, you will be compensated.
Before You Received That Voucher…
If you’re bumped off an overbooked flight, you’re probably out of luck. Waiting for a flight is torturous enough without being stuck sitting in the departure lounge for hours or days. When you’re stuck in a sky-high airport terminal and the gate agents don’t seem to take much interest in your plight, it can be particularly demoralizing. But there is good news: Your patience can pay off. As it turns out, airlines offer vouchers for future travel to those who are bumped off flights or overbooked. But before you accept the voucher, here are some tips for you:
- Instead of a standby ticket, you can insist on a seat change or have a confirmed seat. There are a number of things to consider before you accept a voucher for future travel: A voucher does not obligate you to buy the tickets. If the airline doesn’t have another seat to sell you, you will have to travel alone or on standby. If you don’t like the options the airline presents you with; you can suggest a seat change. If a seat change is not possible, you can insist on a confirmed seat, not a standby ticket.
- Ask for the validity of this voucher. Now, if you’re the type who pays attention to all the details, you may have already noticed that your travel voucher for the next two weeks is expiring. You should take the time to read through the voucher carefully before you accept it because there are important details you should know about it, such as what happens if you don’t use it.
- Ask for hotel and meal vouchers. It’s not the end of the world if your flight gets delayed, but if it’s more than 4 hours, and you’ve paid for an airline ticket to get where you’re going, you’re going to be pretty hungry. If your flight is delayed more than 4 hours, contact the airline to find out if they will provide meal or hotel vouchers to cover you while you’re waiting. Be patient; they may need some time to work through their delays.
- Inquire if the voucher can also be used with other airlines. If a third party is selling a travel voucher, then you have the right to ask whether you can use the voucher with another airline. You also have the right to ask the seller if the voucher can be used with another airline. If the seller refuses to answer these questions, then you can cancel the sale and keep the voucher. If the seller gives you a satisfactory answer, you can accept the offer, but you can only use the voucher with the seller’s airline.
One of the more annoying things about traveling is having your flight delayed or canceled. On the other hand, a delayed flight may be a blessing in disguise; it gives you time to do some planning, forces you to rethink your travel plans, and give them a new perspective. Getting bumped off a flight is very frustrating, but as long as you know the important things to do, you can always make sure that you will not be bumped off from what you should be receiving from the airline company.