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Here's the Step-by-Step Process for Getting Money Back After Getting Bumped Off a Flight

There’s one upside to nightmarish holiday travel – you might save money. 

Traveling during the holidays can be a nightmare for a variety of factors. Flights get canceled or delayed, you can miss a connecting flight and be stranded in a random city, or you might get bumped for another reason. Luckily, there are things you can do to recoup the money if you get bumped from a flight – or even end up with more cash in your wallet than before you left. "Getting bumped off a flight can be frustrating, but there are ways to save money," says  Wallethub analyst Cassandra Happe. "Knowing your rights is essential to ensure you get what you're owed." Here is how to save money when you are bumped off your flight, according to an expert.

How To Avoid Getting Bumped

First of all, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, bumping is not common but it's not illegal either. "Airlines oversell their scheduled flights to a certain extent in order to compensate for 'no-shows.' Most of the time, airlines correctly predict the 'no shows"'and everything goes smoothly," they explain. However, on occasion, passengers are bumped as a result of oversales practices.

"To avoid getting bumped, make sure you have a seat assignment, check-in online, and arrive at the gate on time," says Happe. You also want to do these to ensure that if you do get bumped, you will be eligible for compensation, says the DOT. 

Know Your Rights

The first scenario: You are unwillingly bumped from your flight. "If you're involuntarily bumped, you're entitled to compensation that can be in the form of cash, a check, or credit." There are a few scenarios where the airline doesn't have to pay you – for example, in the case of an aircraft change or weight or balance restrictions. However, according to the Department of Transportation, passengers who are denied boarding involuntarily due to oversales are entitled to compensation "based on the price of their ticket, the length of time that they are delayed in getting to their destination because of being denied boarding, and whether their flight is a domestic flight or an international flight leaving from the United States," they explain.

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Compensation Breakdown

The majority of bumped passengers who experience short delays on flights "will receive compensation equal to double the one-way price of the flight they were bumped from, but airlines may limit this amount to up to $775," they continued. 

Those who experience longer delays on flights will receive payments of four times the one-way value of the flight they were bumped from, "but airlines may limit this amount to up to $1,550," they add. 

On the other hand, if you volunteer to be bumped, "airlines might offer you vouchers or gift cards that can be used anywhere," she said. Oftentimes, the airline will make an announcement or even send out emails or notifications via the app that they are looking for volunteers. Some of the airlines even ask how much you would be willing to accept in exchange for giving up your flight, choosing people in an auction-like manner. 

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more
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